BRUSSELS, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and Japan may launch a free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation during the 21st summit held in Tokyo on March 25, said an EU official on Thursday.
The official, who required to be anonymous, said that the launch was delayed till this year due mainly to longer time of preparation. "Japan desires to announce launch of the negotiation during the summit." said the official.
Trade and economic cooperation will be a major issue for the summit. According to the statement issued by the Council of the European Union, in 2011, the EU represented 11 percent of Japan's trade, making Japan its third most important trade partner. Two way trade in goods reached 118 billion euros (152 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011.
The EU remains Japan's third largest destination for exports and Japan's second largest source of imports after China. Foreign direct investments (including from the EU) are still low in Japan when compared to other industrialised economies.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who will attend the summit along with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, highly regards launch of FTA talks.
"The EU and Japan are strategic partners, like-minded global players and major economic powers. I am therefore glad that our relations will be taken to a new level with the launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement and a partnership agreement," Barroso said.
The EU believes the FTA between the two sides could boost Europe's economy by 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent of its GDP. EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7 percent while Japanese exports to the EU could increase by 23.5 percent. As a result of the agreement, 420,000 jobs could be created in the EU alone.
"The free trade agreement alone could boost our bilateral trade and investment relations and play a role in reviving global economic growth," said Barroso.