An ideal partnership with much potential

A comprehensive trade deal with Japan is economically crucial – and could contribute to the creation of an international trade regime.

The decision taken in late November by the European Council’s Foreign Affairs Council to launch talks on a free-trade agreement with Japan marks a significant juncture on the road to returning growth to our economies and making full use of the potential of the relationship between Japan and the EU. However, we have only reached an important point on our journey together; the final destination is a swift and successful conclusion of the agreement.

Several milestones have been passed on this road, and momentum has developed, thanks in part to the successful conclusion of the scoping exercises with the European Commission and the related resolution by the European Parliament. The momentum continues to build, with more and more prominent organisations and associations coming out in favour of a comprehensive agreement. This is underlined in the name that Japan prefers: we call this agreement not a ‘free-trade agreement’ but an ‘economic partnership agreement’ (EPA). This demonstrates Japan’s intention to make this agreement something more than a traditional trade deal. It must be a comprehensive agreement that includes a wide range of issues, such as investment, industrial co-operation, co-operation on intellectual-property rights and the harmonisation of regulatory systems.

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