EU drops restrictions on JR firms

JIJI

The European Union has broadly agreed to accept a request to exempt three Japanese railways from obligations under a global government procurement pact, an EU source said Wednesday.

Asked whether the EU will agree to remove the three firms from the list covered by the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement, known as GPA, the source said, “Yes, they will . . . after they work out the procedural issues.”

The three are East Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co., all of which are private companies.

Since the three JR firms were previously owned by the state, they stay on the GPA list. The pact obliges signatories not to discriminate against foreign suppliers in goods and services procurement by government and public organizations.

Japan tried to remove the three former Japanese National Railways companies from the GPA list at WTO ministerial talks in 2011. But Tokyo could not achieve the exemption mainly because of the EU’s opposition.