Politico | 8 May 2017
EU seeks political agreement on Japan trade deal by July
By Hans von der Burchard
Brussels hopes to seal its biggest trade deal by reaching a political agreement with Japan in early July, which would close large parts of the negotiations and only leave a few areas to be resolved later this year.
The aim is to conclude such a political agreement, which usually means consensus on 90 percent of the trade talks, ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8, diplomats from four EU countries told POLITICO.
“The goal is to send a clear message at the G20 that the EU remains engaged and delivers on free trade,” one European diplomat said, adding that this message should particularly resonate “across the Atlantic.”
Reaching such a political deal will require Japan to make concessions on market access for EU agricultural exports, especially in the dairy sector. The EU’s last big push to strike a deal on market access failed in December. However, Tokyo expects to finish a reform of its dairy sector by June that will likely give the Asian country more leeway in the negotiations.
“It’s getting more optimistic,” another EU diplomat said. However, discussions on data flows as well as the Investment Court System, on which the EU insists but Japan is reluctant, could drag on until later this year. “These are issues where we might need a bit more time,” the diplomat said.
The EU and Japanese chief negotiators will meet this month. The aim is to have a 19th round of negotiations in June, or shortly afterwards.