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Japan, EU leaders meet to promote free trade, seek success of G-20

  • April 26, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 1:39 a.m.
  • English Press

Japan and the European Union leaders held a meeting on Thursday, during which both sides are expected to agree on the importance of free trade and cooperation toward the success of the Group of 20 summit to be held in Osaka in June.


The leaders may also discuss Brexit after the European Union gave Britain an extended Oct. 31 deadline to leave the bloc and on China’s growing influence in Europe under its “Belt and Road” initiative.


Meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reiterate Tokyo’s call for avoiding a “no deal” Brexit that would disrupt business activity.


Abe is in Brussels as part of his European and North American tour to prepare for this year’s G-20 summit of major economies that he will chair in the western Japanese city.


Abe aims to work closely with the European Union, which is part of the G-20, in tackling common agendas such as trade, climate change, and data governance, Japanese officials said.


The European Union is a major trading partner and a direct investment destination for Japan. When combined, the 28-member bloc and Japan make up about a third of the world’s economy.


As a Japan-EU free trade agreement entered into force in February amid a U.S.-China trade war, the Japanese and European leaders will likely discuss deepening economic ties.


Abe’s trip comes amid concern among some European Union members about the prospect of Beijing getting a bigger foothold following Italy’s recent endorsement in March of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure development initiative, the first member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations to do so.


In a summit Wednesday in Rome, Abe agreed with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that they will pursue high-quality infrastructure that can achieve both economic growth and fiscal sustainability.


The trip is also aimed at boosting relations with the Visegrad Four, a group that has gained a greater presence among the European Union in recent years. Abe met with leaders from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary on Thursday.

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