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AKIPRESS.COM - Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and European Union leaders agreed Wednesday to seek an early conclusion of a free trade agreement and cooperate in countering attacks in cyberspace, The Japan Times reported.
“We will negotiate intensively while aiming to achieve a broad [free trade] agreement in 2015,” Abe said at a joint press conference following a summit with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the EU headquarters in Brussels.
Japanese and EU officials have been negotiating the possible elimination or reduction of tariffs in trade liberalization talks launched in April last year.
Japan aims in particular to increase its auto and television exports to the 28 nations belonging to the European Union, while the bloc hopes to boost exports of such products as cheese and wine to Japan, and is also calling on Tokyo to remove non-tariff barriers, including domestic rules on the safety of motor vehicles and medical equipment.
The fifth round of talks ended last month but the two sides have yet to announce any specific achievements.
The EU nations are now studying whether to continue the negotiations by reviewing progress made in getting Tokyo to reduce trade barriers.
“Negotiations have now reached a critical phase,” Van Rompuy said in written remarks following the summit. If the one-year review allows, “we must raise the level of ambition and bring these negotiations to a speedy and successful conclusion,” he said.
Barroso said he expects no particular opposition from EU member countries to continuing talks with Japan, expressing hope negotiations will accelerate.
On cybersecurity, Japan and the European Union agreed to launch a dialogue to boost cooperation.
“Facing more severe, widespread and globalized risks surrounding cyberspace and the need to protect human rights online, protection of a safe, open and secure cyberspace is needed,” the leaders said.
Japan and the European Union will also hold an inaugural meeting in the latter half of this year in Tokyo of talks on the stable use of outer space.