EU pushes faster trade talks with Japan

Talks could take up to five years, according to analysts

 The European Union and Japan will speed up talks towards achieving what could be one the world’s biggest free trade deals, European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Tuesday.
"The EU-Japan trade agreement remains a key priority and we hope to be able to move fast with the third round of negotiations in October in Brussels and at the upcoming summit in November," De Gucht said after talks with Japanese Economy Minister, Toshimitsu Motagi. "Both economies should reap the valuable benefits expected from the agreement sooner rather later," he added.
The talks could take up to five years, analysts say, as the EU and Japan look to give their faltering economies a boost with an accord which would cover some 30 % of global economic output and 40 % of trade.
But de Gucht said it was important not to linger and that the sooner the talks finished, the better. In an effort to accelerate negotiations, De Gucht said he and the Japanese minister had agreed to exchange offers on both goods and services as soon as possible, so that they may be discussed at a November EU-Japan summit in Japan.
With a good dose of "political resolve" and a restricted timeline, De Gucht said highly technical issues could be overcome and strong domestic grievances addressed. "We are working at a sustained pace and I hope the summit can put some impetus into the process," he said.
The negotiating parties believe an accord could add 0.6-0.8 % to Europe’s annual economic output on the back of a near 33-% gain in EU exports to Japan.
Non-tariff barriers are a major issue for Brussels and De Gucht reiterated that the talks could be suspended after one year if commitments are not met.
As well as Japan, the EU has also begun negotiations on Free Trade Agreements with the United States, Canada and India, as well as the Mercosur countries of Latin America among others.
Japan too is involved in other talks, most recently winning Washington’s approval to join the 11-nation, US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership.