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Japan-EU Deal to Counter US Protectionism

Japan-EU Deal to Counter US ProtectionismJapan-EU Deal to Counter US Protectionism

The EU’s top trade official said the Japan-EU free trade deal will send “a strong message” against protectionism, as the two sides look to ink a long-awaited agreement.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom spoke out as she arrived in Tokyo with agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan for two days of talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and farm minister Yuji Yamamoto, AFP reported.

After four years of negotiations the two sides are working toward signing a deal at the G20 in Hamburg next week. “If Japan and European Union, two very big important economies of the world, can send a signal to the rest of the world, where protectionism is rising, I think that would be a very strong message,” Malmstrom said.

Separately, she tweeted before meeting Kishida she was “determined to do our utmost to find a good deal for European companies + consumers”.

Clinching a deal would be a victory for free-trade advocates after US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership this year, dealing a possibly fatal blow to the mooted 12-nation deal.

Kishida, meanwhile, warned again that the negotiations would not be easy. “We still have very difficult issues remaining. And I expect our negotiations to be very tough,” he said. The minister added he wished to have “a very candid discussion” with Malmstrom.

Tariffs on European cheese have been a key sticking point. Brussels wants Japan to eliminate its 30% tariffs on some EU-made cheese, while Tokyo wants duties cut on cars which it exports to the 28-member bloc.

The EU and Japanese economies combined account for some 28% of global GDP.

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