TOKYO — The chief negotiators of Japan and the European Union will meet next week in Brussels with the aim of finalizing a bilateral free trade deal by the end of the year, a source close to the matter said Tuesday.
In the meeting planned around Dec. 5 to 8, the two sides will seek to make progress on negotiations over the process to settle investment disputes, an unresolved issue after Japan and the bloc struck a broad agreement on the pact in July, the source said.
As they hope to conclude the pact as soon as possible, they may not include the scheme to settle investment disputes in the final agreement and continue negotiations even after the agreement, the source said.
Regarding the scheme, which gives a company the right to sue a state for compensation if it believes its investment has been harmed by a government decision, Tokyo has been calling for the use of an existing investor-state dispute system whereby a company and a government select mediators every time a case is raised.
The European Union has opposed the approach and proposes setting up a permanent investment court with proper mediators appointed by governments. Japan, however, is cautious about the idea as it could hurt companies’ interests due to a government’s arbitrary selection of mediators.