EU to Launch Free Trade Negotiations With Japan
EU trade ministers agreed on Thursday to start negotiations to create a free-trade area with Japan, overcoming resistance from European carmakers who fear a deal might damage their industry.
"We have a deal," said an EU official close to the negotiations.
An accord between Europe and Japan would bring together two trading partners responsible for a third of global economic output and could create 400,000 jobs in Europe alone.
France and Italy have been worried about the impact on their auto industries, and the deal was only reached after Paris was given safeguards to defend French carmakers against potentially strengthened competition from Japan, said another EU official.
The plan is part of an EU ambition to make up for stagnant European demand with potential free-trade pacts with major economies, including Canada and the United States.
Japan is the EU's third-largest trading partner after the United States and China, accounting for 150 billion euros a year in trade in goods and services.