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EU And Japan Further Strengthen Ties

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

07 June 2007

The EU-Japan Summit this week has led to a further strengthening of the alliance between the two sides, as they reiterated their close political and economic cooperation.

Agreements were reached in several key areas, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that "highly impressive and important results have been achieved".

The Summit focused on issues which will also play a central role at the forthcoming G8 Summit in Heiligendamm – climate and energy policy, intellectual property rights protection, and development and innovation policy – as well as on regional security-policy themes.

The EU and Japan meet annually for summits at heads of government level. The previous Summit took place in Tokyo in April 2006.

With regard to intellectual property rights protection, the Japanese and European representatives agreed that patent protection is vital for business. The two sides signed an Action Plan aimed at strengthening intellectual property rights protection, and agreed on both bilateral steps and on a joint approach in multilateral negotiations.

A high level of agreement was also reportedly reached on climate protection, with both sides concurring that:

  • Climate change is mainly caused by mankind, which therefore must react to it rather than ignoring it.
  • Long-term CO2 reduction objectives, subscribed to by more and more countries, are necessary. These objectives must be formulated in a binding way. By the middle of this century the two sides want to reduce global CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
  • This reduction objective must be included in a UN framework agreement.

Immediately prior to the Summit, Chancellor Merkel met her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for bilateral talks. At the Federal Chancellery they discussed the forthcoming G8 Summit in Heiligendamm. Next year Japan takes over the Presidency of the G8.

At the start of the Summit, the participants also met the Co-Chairs of the EU-Japan Business Dialogue Round Table, which annually draws up recommendations aimed at deepening the two sides' economic cooperation.

Earlier this week, the European Commission welcomed the initialling of the customs cooperation agreement between the European Community and the Government of Japan, which took place in Berlin on the margins of the EU-Japan Summit.

The agreement aims at simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures for reliable operators, and provides the means to fight against customs fraud and to exchange information on mutual assistance matters.

Both the European Community and the Japanese authorities agreed to take the necessary measures towards a formal signature of the agreement in the coming months.

"EU exports to Japan account for 4.1% of EU exports while Japan is the fourth largest source with a 6.2% share of the EU import market. This represents an average of around EUR15 billion trade exchanges each year" explained László Kovács, Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union.

"We therefore need to strengthen our customs cooperation with Japan in order to promote trade facilitation for reliable traders, to improve the fight against fraud and to provide protection of Intellectual Property Rights."

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