The European Union and Japan will seek a broad agreement on a bilateral free trade deal next year, EU chief negotiator Mauro Petriccione said Saturday, setting a new timeline partly due to some tariff issues in the dairy sector.
“We will need to continue working in the next few weeks in order to bridge the remaining distance and reach an agreement in principle, with the right balance, as early as possible at the beginning of next year,” Petriccione said at a press conference in Tokyo.
Both sides were aiming to broadly agree on the bilateral free trade deal by year-end.
Japan is keen to advance its trade talks with the European Union given the dim prospects for a U.S.-led Pacific Rim free trade deal after President-elect Donald Trump said he will withdraw the United States from it.
Wrapping up five-day talks with his Japanese counterpart through Friday, Petriccione said, “These negotiations are very close to a conclusion” but added that “there are some issues where compromises are more difficult than either of us had thought.”
In negotiations between Japan and the European bloc, which will be reduced to 27 nations after Britain’s withdrawal is finalized, Tokyo is seeking the removal of tariffs imposed by the region on Japanese cars and electronics products, while Brussels wants Japan to eliminate duties on such farm products as pork and cheese.