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Parliamentary question - E-004424/2016(ASW)Parliamentary question

Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission

1. At a meeting on 3 May 2016 President Juncker and Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed their full commitment to negotiate a comprehensive and ambitious Free Trade Agreement and mentioned the objective of concluding as early as possible in 2016. While insisting on substance over speed, the Commission will do its outmost to come to an agreement with Japan in 2016. However, it is not possible for the Commission to predict how long the ratification by the EU of such an agreement will take, since the time required for ratification by the European Parliament and the Council are not within the control of the Commission.

2. The impact assessment study conducted before the start of the negotiations estimated that exports of the EU to Japan could increase by 22.6 to 32.7%, depending on the scenario chosen, while exports from Japan to the EU could increase by 17.1 to 23.5%.

3. The EU intends to negotiate with Japan an ambitious chapter on Trade and Sustainable development, including commitments to high levels of environmental protection in domestic law and effective implementation of multilateral environmental agreements. Particular emphasis should be put on the conservation of biological diversity, fisheries resources and timber, with reference to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and Food and Agriculture Organisation instruments. The EU seeks comprehensive commitments which allow the parties to address a broad range of topics in the implementation phase. For this reason, the EU does not foresee provisions on specific issues such as whaling, which was also not part of the scoping exercise that preceded the launch of the negotiations. Import of whale meat also remains prohibited in the EU.