Business

Japan and EU eye early start to free trade deal

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday vowed utmost efforts to conclude their domestic procedures so a bilateral free trade agreement can be put into force at an early date, with the end of the year given as a target.

During their talks in Brussels, Abe expressed concerns about stalled negotiations over Britain’s exit from the 28-member regional bloc and called for measures to mitigate a negative impact on Japanese companies operating in the EU, Japanese officials said.

The Japan-EU summit took place after EU leaders failed to resolve differences on how to deal with the land border between the Republic of Ireland and the British territory of Northern Ireland at their two-day gathering.

Amid an escalating trade war between the United States and China, the two leaders also confirmed their cooperation on reforming the World Trade Organization, the officials said.

Abe is visiting Brussels to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting, which brings together 53 countries and international organizations.

In a separate meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abe shared with her the importance of a multilateral trade system based on WTO rules.

On security, the two leaders reaffirmed the need to completely implement U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, they said.