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Japan-EU second round free-trade talks begin

June 23, 2013 at 11:49 PM

TOKYO, June 23 (UPI) -- Japan and the European Union began their second round of free-trade talks in Tokyo Monday designed to substantially boost their exports.

The talks are a continuation from the first round held in April in Brussels to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers. Japan is the 27-member bloc's seventh-largest trading partner globally, while the EU is Japan's third-largest trading partner after China and the United States. Together the EU and Japan account for more than a third of world's gross domestic product.

Kyodo News said during the current round, expected to last through July 3, the two sides would hold sector-by-sector talks covering fields including goods and services trade, investment and intellectual property.

Japan hopes to increase auto and home electronics exports to the regional bloc by eliminating EU-imposed tariffs. Similarly, the EU wants Japan to remove its non-tariff barriers to give the bloc greater access to public-sector projects in Japan.

The EU in an earlier news release said an agreement between the two economic giants would result in the creation of 400,000 jobs. It would boost EU exports to Japan by nearly 33 percent, while Japanese exports to the EU would jump by 23.5 percent.

The talks with the EU also are part of Japan's efforts to secure new sources of growth, Kyodo said. Other efforts include joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations involving 11 nations.

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