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EU-Japan – Meeting in Rome on Free Trade Agreement and achieving growth together

Ever-closer ties between Europe and Japan, in the spirit of convergence that is vital if we are to grow together and tackle the crisis. That was the topic of a conference entitled “Europe-Japan, a necessary convergence: the free trade negotiations” that was held in Rome to provide an up-date on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The conference took place in the run-up to the new round of talks opening in Tokyo in the week beginning 7 July 2014.

The conference was organised by the Italy-Japan Foundation and the Italy-Japan Business Group, and promoted by Stefano Dambruoso, Quaestor of the Chamber of Deputies and chair of the newly re-established Italy-Japan Parliamentary Group. Attendees included the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Benedetto Della Vedova; Ambassador Umberto Vattani, chair of the Italy-Japan Foundation; and the deputy chief negotiator for the EU-Japan agreement, Antonio Parenti. Representing the Japanese government were the Ambassador of Japan in Italy, Masaharu Kohno, and the Vice-Minister for International Affairs from the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, Norihiko Ishiguro.

“An agreement of extreme importance”

“This is an agreement of extreme importance, like the agreement Europe is negotiating with the United States”, observed Under-Secretary Della Vedova. “The true challenges for Italy are reforms and growth, which, however, are the most costly to address. The reform of the agriculture sector is not a secondary issue for Japan, and nor is the reform of justice and the labour market for Italy”. The two countries share a need to stimulate economic recovery and have recently embarked on reform processes.

“The Italian and Japanese governments have been communicating more and more closely in a truly impressive manner”, declared Ambassador Khono. He was remarking on the 3 meetings that have taken place between the Italian premier, Matteo Renzi, and his Japanese colleague, Shinzo Abe, in just a few months. The pace of the talks on the FTA, which opened in 2009, has picked up recently, to the extent that Prime Minister Abe hopes to see the agreement signed by the end of 2015.