EU and Japan make joint commitment to reach a speedy conclusion to trade negotiations

President Juncker and President Tusk are meeting today with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, with the negotiations for a bilateral trade deal featuring prominently on the agenda. In a statement given before the meeting, President Juncker said: We believe this agreement is necessary because we believe in free, fair and rules-based trade. And so we will continue to look out towards the world, rather than return to isolationism. The EU is open for fair business. Our negotiations with Japan are now in a decisive – and hopefully final – stage. Prime Minister Abe’s visit will allow us to reiterate our political commitment to a highly comprehensive, ambitious and balanced deal, so that our capable negotiators make the necessary progress in the outstanding areas.  Following our discussions today, I am very confident this will pave the way for a swift agreement this year.  As we approach the final stages of the negotiating process, on the EU side we will continue to ensure a high level of transparency and engage directly with stakeholders and civil society on issues related to the negotiations. I look forward to continuing this close partnership with Prime Minister Abe at the upcoming G7 meeting in Taormina, and hopefully at the next EU-Japan summit where we can successfully conclude our negotiations. EU and Japanese negotiators will meet for a new round in Tokyo in April, and the process will intensify further thereafter. Alongside the trade agreement, the EU and Japan are also negotiating a Strategic Partnership Agreement, and leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing negotiations and press ahead for their swift conclusion. This new agreement would reflect Japan’s position as a key strategic partner of the EU in Asia and, alongside the trade agreement, demonstrates the partners’ joint commitment to open and rules-based trade as well as to the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Additionally, in the margins of the CeBIT digital business fair in Hanover, Germany Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vĕra Jourová launched yesterday the dialogue on data protection and data flows with Japan, to further EU-Japan bilateral cooperation on the data economy.