BRUSSELS, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The European Union will decide
on Thursday whether to go ahead with free-trade talks with Japan
to deepen Europe's ties with the world's third-largest economy.
The European Union already has trade agreements with more
than 60 countries ranging from Egypt and Mexico to Switzerland
but now aims to sign accords with the world's biggest economies.
Following are some of the EU's trade talks around the world.
The EU had hoped to finalise a free-trade accord with Canada
by the end of this year after opening talks in 2009, but issues
such as investment protection and public procurement remain on
An agreement would mark the EU's first fully fledged trade
pact with a major developed country outside Europe and goes well
beyond a reduction in trade tariffs to include broad access to
service sectors for both sides.
A free-trade deal between Brussels and Beijing is not likely
any time soon. Despite often tense trade ties, both sides are
trying to move towards starting talks on an investment pact that
could unleash billions of euros of fresh investment flows.
A pact would lay down rules for companies expanding in both
regions and end onerous Chinese requirements for European
companies that want to invest in China, which include mandatory
joint ventures and bans on foreign ownership in some sectors.
The EU started talks with India in 2007. India's trade
minister says the two sides have agreed to finalise a free-trade
agreement by the end of this year, but EU officials say that the
agreement is at a stalemate over Indian duties on European car
imports and access for Indian software companies to the EU.
A free-trade agreement would help India's growing companies
expand into the EU, the country's biggest trading partner and
buyer of more than 40 billion euros ($53 billion) of Indian
goods and services in 2010. Europe wants access to a vast, young
market of 1.3 billion potential customers.
Following the EU's trade agreement with South Korea last
year, Brussels wants to start talks with Japan to agree a
similar deal with Tokyo.
A deal between Europe and Japan would bring together two
trading partners responsible for a third of global economic
output, but France and Italy are worried about strengthened
Japanese competition for their weak car industries.
MERCOSUR (ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, OTHERS)
Talks to create a massive free trade zone between Europe and
South America have stalled, officials say.
Negotiators from the European Union and the four-nation
trade bloc Mercosur, led by Brazil, have been trying for years
to draw up a free-trade deal that would encompass 750 million
people and trade worth 100 billion euros ($130 billion) a year.
The EU and the United States could start negotiations on a
long-desired free-trade deal early in 2013. The two sides
already have the biggest trade relationship in the world, with
more than 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) in trade every day
across the Atlantic.
An EU-U.S. working group is expected in December to
recommend going ahead with negotiations for a free trade deal
that would eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in
goods, services and investment. It would also enhance the
compatibility of regulations and standards.
($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Hugh Lawson)