06 OCT 2010
By Toby Vogel | European Voice
Japan hopes to launch talks with the European Union on a free-trade agreement next spring but fears that disagreements among EU member states could delay the start of discussions, according to a senior Japanese official.
Japan would like to open the talks at the next bilateral summit, scheduled for April or May 2011, but the official said that the EU was having “difficulty building a consensus”.
Japan is the EU's second-most important trade partner in Asia, after China and ahead of South Korea, with which the EU will sign a trade pact tomorrow (6 October). The difficulties in getting member states' agreement to the Korea trade deal was seen as an indication of the kind of problems any deal with Japan could face inside the EU. Japan has a far bigger economy and export sector than South Korea.
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