Japan to push for free-trade talks with EU at G20

TOKYO — Japan said Thursday it will propose at this week’s G20 summit to launch negotiations with the European Union on establishing an economic partnership agreement.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 11:44 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:24 AM

Prime Minister Naoto Kan will make the proposition when he holds talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Seoul, a Tokyo official said.

Kan hopes to agree with Van Rompuy to “speed up” their current working-level discussions about tariffs and other specific issues ahead of the official start of negotiations, she added.

The Nikkei business daily said on Thursday that during the meeting in Seoul, Kan would unveil plans to map out concrete policies as early as this year-end, hoping to begin talks “in the spring of 2011.”

Tokyo is asking the EU to slash the high tariffs it currently slaps on Japanese automobiles, liquid crystal display televisions and other products, the newspaper said.

The EU has urged Japan to lower non tariff barriers — such as the strength and safety certification procedures on construction materials, cars and medical devices — as a condition for pursuing economic partnership talks, it said.

The move came after South Korea signed a free trade accord with the EU last month, which fuelled concerns in Japan that domestic companies will become less competitive than their South Korean rivals.

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