Japan, EU agree to start free-trade negotiations

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2013 at 7:00 am •  Published: March 25, 2013

Among the likely beneficiaries of free trade are Japan's giant manufacturing exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest automaker.

Japanese consumers may also have much to gain with access to cheaper imports, including new kinds of services. And boosts in spending may help breathe life into the Japanese economy, the world's third largest.

"It would be not only great for the manufacturers seeking exports. It should also lead to a more efficient domestic economy because of increased competition. And it's the Japanese consumer who will benefit," said Azusa Kato, economist at BNP Paribas.

The push to start talks on joining free-trade deals is part of the Japanese prime minister's "Abenomics" strategy that includes super-easy money and generous public works spending.

Abenomics has already driven up the Tokyo stock market and brought down the yen, a boon for Japan's exporters.

Kato believes that industries that could change for the better include pharmaceuticals and medical services.

The EU is Japan's third-largest destination for exports, and Japan's second-largest source of imports after China. EU exports to Japan reached 49 billion euros in 2011, while EU imports from Japan were 69 billion euros.

A free trade agreement with Japan could boost Europe's economy by 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent, EU exports to Japan could increase by 32 percent and Japanese exports to the EU could increase by 23 percent, according to the EU. The deal could also create 420,000 jobs in Europe, it said.

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