Handelsblatt Exclusive Japan Foreign Minister: Time to Revive E.U. Free-Trade Deal

Japan's Foreign Minister says talks between his country and the European Union should be revived as quickly as possible.
Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Picture

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said reviving stalled talks on a free-trade deal with the European Union is all the more critical in the current era of protection.

With U.S. President Donald Trump halting the Asia-Pacific free-trade deal known as TPP and pushing for a renegotiation of the north-American NAFTA, it is “especially important to reach the basic outlines of a deal between Japan and the European Union as quickly as possible,” Mr. Kishida told Handelsblatt.

Talks between the 28-nation E.U. and Japan have been ongoing for seven years. Mr. Kishida said kickstarting the talks would allow the two economies to serve as an example and take a leadership role in global free trade.

Mr. Kishida, who was speaking on the sidelines of a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Bonn, also said he hoped Germany would take a leading role in pushing for free trade within the European Union. The meeting comes days after the European Parliament approved a free-trade deal between the E.U. and Canada, known as CETA.

Like Germany and China, Japan’s high trade surplus makes it a potential target for the Trump administration, which has threatened to impose tariffs on foreign companies that sell products in the United States but produce abroad. Mr. Kishida said that reducing exports or moving production to the United States would be “hard to imagine.”