Last week saw another round of negotiations on an EU-Japan free trade deal take place in Brussels. It was the first round in months and talks started moving forward as the May 2015 EU-Japan summit is drawing near, as well as the self-imposed deadline to end the talks – end of 2015. Insiders reported that the talks included minor issues, clarifications and other small steps, which are however important for the overall success of the deal. On the other hand, negotiators did not address some key issues, such as agricultural products and especially the difficult question of “geographical indicators” – food and drink brand names derived from a location. This issue is usually one of the major problems in trade talks with developed states. Agriculture is seen as one of the main areas that the FTA could profit the EU.
The next round of talks will be a smaller one in Japan in March, followed by a full-size round in April also in Japan. It is expected that on that occasion, negotiators will be pushed forward significantly due to the May summit. The EU is negotiating a number of free trade deals at the moment, the most ambitious of which is TTIP. Japan is also currently negotiating a free trade deal with the US, as it is part of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) talks. However, the TPP is much less comprehensive than the deals the EU is trying to conclude.
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19th June 2018