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2013年11月23日 (土)

日欧EPA交渉 TPPと併せた戦略が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 23, 2013
Promote EPA talks with EU along with TPP negotiations
日欧EPA交渉 TPPと併せた戦略が必要だ(11月22日付・読売社説)

In parallel with negotiations with the United States, Australia and other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade framework, Japan must step up efforts to work out an economic partnership agreement with the European Union.

Japan will be urged to implement a strategy that stimulates economic growth by establishing various free trade zones.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Herman Van Rompuy of the European Council, who is EU president, issued a joint statement after their meeting earlier this week.

The statement stressed that the two sides would commit “to the earliest possible conclusion” of an economic partnership agreement, on which negotiations began in April.

The free trade agreement between South Korea and the EU took effect in July 2011, leaving Japan far behind South Korea in free trade talks with the EU. The EU softened its stance after Japan joined the TPP talks, which led to the launching of Japan-EU EPA talks.

However, Japan-EU negotiations on the matter were rocky in the past three rounds of talks. The accord by Abe and Van Rompuy to accelerate the negotiations illustrates their sense of crisis. The EU is very wary it will be left out of the huge free trade zone in Asia.

The focal point is whether the EU will abolish 10 percent and 14 percent tariffs imposed on car and television imports from Japan.

EU tariffs on the same South Korean products will be abolished in 2016 under the bilateral FTA after being reduced in phases. Japan has every reason to call for equal terms to prevent it from facing unfair competition.

Tariff cuts at issue

The EU, for its part, has resisted the Japanese demand and instead called for lowering tariffs on wine, cheese and other products and reexamining nontariff barriers to open the market for railroad carriages and other public transport-related products.

It is also problematic that the EU has put forth a policy of discontinuing negotiations if it judges Japan’s improvement in its stance is insufficient one year after the start of the talks.

TPP talks are entering a critical stage as to whether an accord can be hammered out before the end of the year.

Japan needs to test the nerves of EU members anxious about the progress of TPP talks and call for the correction of unreasonable demands, thereby seeking to find a point of compromise as early as possible.

With the Japan-China confrontation over the Senkaku Islands in mind, the joint statement clearly mentioned that Japan and the EU “shared the concern about current tensions, including in East Asia’s maritime areas” and called for addressing them “based on the principle of the rule of law.” This is laudable.

Security and issues of global interests were also discussed in the latest Japan-EU summit meeting.

It also represents progress that Japan and the EU agreed to launch consultative talks on the prevention of cyberterrorism and the peaceful use of space. The EU seems to aim at taking the lead in working out international rules in these fields.

It is essential to expand the scope of cooperation in addressing such issues as those of global interests. We hope that further strengthening of the bilateral relationship of trust will help break the stalemate in EPA negotiations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2013)
(2013年11月22日01時31分  読売新聞)


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