Keidanren chief optimistic about Japan-EU free-trade talks

Kyodo

Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura said he isn’t overly concerned about the outlook for free-trade talks because business circles in Japan and Europe have been exchanging views on how to open up their respective markets.

The head of Japan’s most influential business lobby said during a recent visit to Europe that he understands some EU members are cautious about starting trade talks with Japan, but he is “not so pessimistic about the outlook because we are deepening mutual understanding on how to open markets through dialogues between Japanese and European businesses.”

The European Commission in July proposed to the 27 EU member nations that free-trade negotiations begin with Japan. The International Trade Committee of the European Parliament passed a resolution last week to approve such talks.

While some say a South Korea-EU free-trade deal has not brought about benefits for the European side due to a surge in imports of South Korean vehicles, Yonekura said such a trade imbalance is unlikely to be a major concern in the case of Japanese carmakers as they typically have integrated local production in Europe.

“If Japan and Europe, both aspiring to high quality and advanced technology, collaborate, contributions to the world would be possible in such areas as standardization (of engineering specifications),” he said.