(Nikkei: October 25, 2015 – p. 3)
Japan and the European Union will start on Oct. 26 talks on an economic partnership agreement (EPA) in Brussels. The Japan-EU talks will be held for the first time since a broad agreement reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks. The Japanese side aims to move ahead negotiations in such areas as tariffs, which have been stalled.
The talks will be held until Nov. 6. The Japanese side has requested the EU eliminate tariffs — (10%) for automobiles and (a maximum of 14%) for electrical machinery. The EU side has demanded removal of tariffs on such items as cheese, wine, and pork.
Before the broad accord on the TPP, the Japan-EU EPA talks made no progress, as Japan was unable to present proposals on tariff reduction and elimination. A senior Foreign Ministry official said: “We want to make good use of the TPP deal as a way to pressure the EU.” Japan and the EU aim at reaching a broad agreement before the end of this year.
Compared with TPP member countries, the EU has more interest in “the area of rules” rather than tariffs. Major agenda items in the talks will likely include measures to facilitate EU companies’ participation in bids for Japan’s public works project and strengthening the protection of EU regional brands of wine and cheese.