BRUSSELS May 5 The European Union is broadly
satisfied with Japan's progress in opening up its markets in
talks towards an ambitious free-trade deal and will likely
approve the continuation of negotiations later this month.
According to an EU document and people briefed on the issue,
Japan has complied with, or was in the process of complying
with, the majority of its commitments in sectors ranging from
organic food to textiles.
EU trade negotiators were told to pull the plug on talks,
which began in April 2013, after a year if Japan did not show
sufficient willingness to bring down barriers to European
"Japan has demonstrated it is as serious as any other of our
trading partners," said one person close to the issue who
declined to be identified. "We should allow talks to continue.
If we push Japan too far, we will lose their confidence."
But the European Union is still demanding that Japan end
preferential tax treatment for domestically-produced small "kei"
cars", which European carmakers such as Fiat and PSA
Peugeot Citroen say hampers their access to the
Brussels is also warning that work to streamline Japan's
process of authorising medical devices could take several years.
EU countries and the European Commission are expected to
decide whether to continue talks with Japan at a meeting in
Brussels on May 23.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott and Philip Blenkinsop)