12:33 GMT +324 March 2019
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    Officials sit as they attend an EU-Japan summit with EU Commission President, European Council and Japan's Prime Minister at the EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 21, 2017.

    EU-Japan Trade Deal Gains Momentum, Important Steps Expected Soon – Lawmaker

    © AFP 2019 / JOHN THYS
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    A free trade agreement between the EU and Japan is progressing faster than before and significant steps toward its conclusion are to be expected soon, member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of its Delegation for relations with Japan Romana Tomc told Sputnik.

    BELGRADE (Sputnik), Victoria Mladenovich – She also added that the negotiations set to wrap up by the end of the year.

    On Monday, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he hoped the free trade deal with Japan would be made in 2017. On the same day, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint press conference that Japan and the European Union had to champion free trade.

    "The objective is to conclude the EU-Japan FTA [free trade agreement] in 2017, provided that the substance is high and the level of ambition of the agreement is high. I do believe that the process has started to move a bit faster and we can expect some important steps to be taken very soon," Romana Tomc said.

    According to Tomc, the European Union and Japan have regular dialogues on a variety of policy areas, which means that the negotiators have to consider many different aspects of the agreement and thus the process appears lengthy.

    "Another reason is also that the EU works on different agreements at this time. EU — Canada agreement (CETA) is now closed, but the agreement with the USA is still open, as well as with China, ASEAN group and others," Tomc added.

    The lawmaker stressed that the free trade deal would be significantly beneficial for both the European Union and Japan.

    "I think that the EU does know that and takes it into account. That is the biggest and the most important stimulus we need. Japan can become a big ally of the whole EU and its member states," Tomc elaborated.

    The European Union and Japan have been negotiating a free trade agreement since March 2013. The deal is viewed as particularly important in an era of rising protectionism, with the United States withdrawing from the Japan-supported Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    trade deal, free trade, European Union, Japan, United States
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