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On March 25 this year, Japan and the European Union announced the launch of negotiations toward an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement. Business organizations on both sides, not least the European Business Council in Japan (EBC), raised a cheer, relieved that at last work could begin on unlocking the true potential of the EU-Japan relationship.

That potential has been estimated by the European commissioner for trade, Karel De Gucht, to be equivalent to a boost to Europe’s economy of up to 0.8 percent of GDP, an increase in EU exports to Japan of over 32 percent and in Japanese exports to the EU of over 23 percent, and the creation of 400,000 additional jobs in the EU alone. As he has said, “We need these jobs, and we need this growth in the current economic climate.”

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