30/11/2012 - Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)
Towards a free trade agreement with Japan
The EU Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council on 29 November approved a mandate for the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan and authorised the opening of negotiations with Japan on a framework agreement. "I'm convinced that we have found the requisite balance in the negotiating directives", stated Mr Sylikiotis, the Cyprus minister presiding over the meeting.
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It is intended to conclude an FTA covering, among other things:
- a progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods and services
- government procurement
- rules on trade-related issues
- the elimination of non-tariff barriers.
A comprehensive and ambitious FTA is expected to bring substantial benefits in terms of growth in GDP, exports and employment.
At the EU-Japan summit on 28 May 2011, leaders decided to move towards negotiations on an FTA and on a framework agreement covering cooperation in various fields. Subsequently, a scoping exercise was carried out in order to explore the scope and level of ambition of an agreement.
The European Council in October 2012 called for an agreement to be reached on negotiating directives with a view to launching negotiations in the months ahead.
Japan is the EU's seventh-largest trading partner, while the EU ranks third among Japan's trading partners, with 3.6 % and 11 % respectively of each other's trade in goods in 2011.