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Japan-EU free trade accord to take effect next spring

Japan-EU free trade accord to take effect next spring

TOKYO: Japan and the European Union are making arrangements to sign a free trade deal in July during an annual summit in Brussels, setting the stage for the accord’s entry into force possibly by next spring, diplomatic sources said Monday.

 The two sides are considering holding the summit on July 11. By swiftly putting into effect the accord, which will create one of the world’s biggest economic blocs, they hope to highlight the importance of free trade amid fears of rising U.S. protectionism.

Based on negotiations finalized in December last year, Japan will eliminate tariffs on 94 percent of all imports from the European Union, including 82 percent of farm and fishery products.

The reduction will likely result in lower prices of European cheese, pork and wine in the Japanese market, although domestic farmers are wary of an influx of competitive products.

In return, the European Union will abolish tariffs on 99 percent of imports from Japan. It will eliminate tariffs on Japanese autos in the eighth year and on TVs in the sixth year after the pact is implemented, and abolish taxes on Japanese sake and green tea.

In reaching the deal, both parties have decided not to include a scheme to settle investment disputes and will continue negotiations over the issue.

Japan and the 28-member regional bloc are aiming for the entry into force of the free trade deal by late March next year when Britain leaves the European Union, the sources said.

In order for the accord to be completed by that timeline, both sides are expected to notify each other of the completion of internal procedures necessary for ratification by the end of January next year.