Japan and the EU are to hold a summit this month to formally launch negotiations on a major free-trade deal, a report said yesterday.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Tokyo in the last week of this month to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Nikkei business daily said.
The report said the two sides would reach a final accord to launch long-awaited negotiations aiming to liberalize trade, and remove barriers on services and investment.
The EU and Japanese leaders are also planning to begin separate talks on a “political accord” featuring cooperation on security, the environment, and science and technology.
EU trade ministers agreed in November last year to launch free-trade talks with Tokyo, while pledging to safeguard Europe’s struggling automakers.
European car and car parts manufacturers fear the removal of tariffs will lead to a rise in Japanese car imports, pointing to a previous trade deal with South Korea that bumped up sales of South Korean vehicles in Europe.
EU trade ministers have pledged to safeguard struggling automakers but auto companies have criticized the envisaged deal, with the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association calling it “a one-way street” for Japanese cars.