Japan and the European Union wrapped up their fourth round of free trade negotiations Friday in Brussels, where they discussed tariff-related issues and nontariff measures in the Japanese railway sector.
During the five-day talks — a key session before the European Union’s review in April of whether Tokyo has made progress in eliminating trade barriers — abolition of EU tariffs on Japanese automobiles was also a main topic of discussion.
The review, a year after the negotiations began, will be conducted to decide whether to continue the free trade talks based on how much effort Japan has made to eliminate nontariff barriers, especially in the railway sector.
The two sides agreed earlier to exchange proposals on scrapping or lowering tariffs at an early date. A senior Japanese government official has said that they were striving to exchange offers by April.
Japan, which wants to expand its auto exports to the European Union, plans to propose scrapping tariffs on EU wine in stages so it can draw a concession from the 28-country bloc in the automobile sector.
Japan is the European Union’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia after China. Together, Japan and the European Union account for more than one third of the global gross domestic product.
The two sides will hold their next round of free trade talks in a week starting March 31 in Tokyo.