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Chairman Calls on European Business Leaders to Rally the Voice of Business for Launching Negotiations for an EU-Japan EIA

6 April 2011
Nippon Keidanren

Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura has written to leaders of representative business associations in the EU calling for rallying the voice of European business to launch negotiations for an EU-Japan EIA (Economic Integration Agreement).

The leaders to whom the letters are addressed are: President Helen Alexander of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Chairman Hans-Peter Keitel of Federation of German Industries (BDI), President Laurence Parisot of MEDEF, President Emma Marcegaglia of Confindustria, President Juan Rosell Lastortras of the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE), President Henryka Bochniarz of Polish Confederation of Private Employers Lewiatan, and President Jürgen R. Thumann of BUSINESSEUROPE.

Chairman Yonekura starts the letters by asking them to share his thoughts on ways to further expand and deepen EU-Japan economic relations by making the most of untapped possibilities.

Based on the agreement at last year's Japan-EU Summit in Tokyo, the European Commission and the Government of Japan have been conducting a joint examination of ways to comprehensively strengthen and integrate the Japan-EU economic relationship. Appropriate next steps will be decided at the forthcoming Summit meeting in May. In July the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is due to come into force, which will place Japanese industry in a disadvantageous position in the EU market.

Against this background, Chairman illustrates the present situation of EU-Japan relations like the following: "EU-Japan relations now stand at a junction. Two different paths lie before us. One is to fail to lay the foundation for securing a level playing field at the forthcoming Summit, thereby decreasing Japanese investments, scaling down Japanese production facilities, or even prompting withdrawal from the EU market. The other is to agree to launch negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious FTA (what we at Keidanren call an Economic Integration Agreement (EIA)), leading to a higher level of business relationships through more Japanese investment and industrial cooperation. The same is true for the other way around. It is no surprise that European businesses in Japan will respond in the same way."

While being encouraged by the conclusions of the European Council (24/25th March) that the forthcoming EU-Japan summit must be used to strengthen the relationship and bring forward our common agenda, including through the potential launch of negotiations for a FTA on the basis that Japan is willing to tackle, inter alia, the issue of non-tariff barriers and restrictions on public procurement, Chairman Yonekura makes a vow that he will redouble efforts to open up and integrate Japan into the global market, and assures European business leaders that the Government of Japan is fully committed to addressing issues of particular interest to individual EU member countries, including non-tariff measures in Japan within the context of FTA negotiations.

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