(Mainichi: March 1, 2016 – p. 6)
Japan and the European Union began their 15th round of negotiations on a bilateral economic partnership agreement in Brussels on Feb. 29 with an eye on clinching a deal by the end of this year.
The two sides met for the first time since the beginning of the year and talks will continue through March 4. Finding a breakthrough in stalled negotiations mainly on areas concerning tariff removal will be the main item on the agenda.
It is predicted that Japan will not make easy concessions on tariffs on farm produce, a major contentious point in EPA talks, due to growing anxiety over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact among domestic famers and the upcoming House of Councillors election.
Japan prioritizes urging the EU to remove tariffs on Japanese automobiles, but the EU makes it a condition for Japan to take an accommodative approach to tariff deals on pork, pasta and wine imports.