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EU talks start with nontariff barriers

Kyodo

Japan and the European Union began their second round of free-trade negotiations Monday in Tokyo, with both sides seeking to discuss elimination of tariffs and nontariff barriers to promote trade and growth.

While the first round of talks in Brussels in April was mostly procedural, the two countries are expected to hold sector-by-sector talks in this round through July 3, covering fields including goods and services trade, investment and intellectual property.

Japan is hoping to increase auto and home electronics exports to the regional bloc by eliminating EU-imposed tariffs, while the European Union is seeking to eliminate Japan’s nontariff barriers and gain greater access to public-sector projects in Japan.

The bilateral negotiations also form part of Japan’s plan to secure a new source of growth by raising the percentage of transactions with free-trade partners in value terms to 70 percent from the current 19 percent.

Tokyo has already launched other free-trade negotiations in addition to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations involving 11 nations from late July.

The EU aims to help its flagging economy by gaining greater access to the world’s third-largest economy while seeking to capitalize on Asia’s robust growth.