BRUSSELS – French trade minister Nicole Bricq says Japan needs to show signs of opening its markets if it hopes to launch formal talks with the European Union on concluding an economic partnership agreement.
There are preconditions Tokyo should meet toward the launch of the EU-Japan EPA negotiations, she said Monday in Brussels.
The European Commission, the executive organ of the EU, proposed to member countries in July that full-fledged EPA negotiations be started with Japan, following the completion of preliminary talks between the two sides earlier this year.
Consent from all 27 EU member countries is required for formal talks. So far, France, Germany and Italy have expressed caution.
There are several impediments in Japan, Bricq said, noting the closed nature of government procurement, import restrictions on drugs and food additives, and a ban on beef imports from France after the outbreak of mad cow disease there.
Under current conditions, France is not in favor of getting on with the talks, she said.
For France to accept Japan-EU trade liberalization, the principle of reciprocity and positive impacts on the French employment market must be ensured and the Japanese markets have to be opened up gradually, Bricq said.
Making haste is not beneficial for the EU side because there are electoral uncertainties in Japan, Bricq added, indicating it is not too late for the EU to make a decision on whether to begin the full-fledged EPA talks after Japan’s next general election.