Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Japan and the European Union (EU) have reached a deadlock.
Regarding talks on farm trade, one of major agendas of the talks, EU negotiators have been continuously taking a strong attitude demanding Japan to open its market at a higher level. It is still difficult for Japan and EU to bridge the distance.
Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida, met his counterpart Cecilia Malmström, EU’s Commissioner for Trade, at Bonn, Germany, on February 17, when the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting was held there.
Although Minister Kishida and Commissioner Malmström confirmed their intention to make an early broad agreement on EPA, they failed to fix the dates of next negotiations.
Japan and EU held a meeting of chief negotiators this January, but they were not successful in making progresses in tariffs cuttings on sensitive items including automobiles and farm products.
Their negotiations had been expected to enter a crucial phase this February since leaders of the European Union would face a busy election schedule with the Netherlands’ general election in March, followed by elections in France and Germany.
However, a breakthrough of the deadlocked talks seeking for a broad agreement on EPA between Tokyo and Brussels is not yet in sight.