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Newly appointed EU Ambassador to Japan Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said Wednesday various issues need to be dealt with before Japan and the EU can conclude a free-trade accord.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet have been eager to sign an FTA with the EU, trying not to fall behind South Korea, which officially signed an accord with the EU last October.

But during a news conference, Schweisgut, Austria’s former ambassador to Japan, said EU companies are concerned about Japan’s lack of market access and nontariff barriers.

“We know that Japan is very much interested in lower tariffs through a free-trade agreement mainly on cars and electronic equipment because of the free-trade agreement that the EU has concluded with (South) Korea,” Schweisgut said. “But the European side also needs to be convinced that there is a balanced outcome if we were to decide on negotiations.”

Hungarian Ambassador to Japan Erno Bohar said Japan and the EU are currently working to reach an accord for future cooperation at the next summit expected to take place in May.

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