ACEA on the launch of Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the EU and Japan

Brussels,16 April 2013 - The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) notes the official start of trade negotiations with Japan yesterday. This is an important first step. ACEA members are global players who support multilateral and bilateral efforts to liberalise trade in automobiles. The European automobile industry strongly favours FTAs that are balanced and create a level playing field for European exporters. ACEA will judge the negotiations with Japan in that light.

The Commission has indicated that, in accordance with the negotiating mandate granted by the Member States, it will review one year after the start of the negotiations the implementation of the commitment given by Japan in last year’s Scoping Exercise to eliminate NTBs, notably in the automotive sector. Mr De Gucht has said that the Commission will ‘pull the plug’ on the negotiations if progress in not fully satisfactory. 

ACEA welcomes these provisions and proposes that the EU should set specific targets for what can be reasonably achieved during the first year of negotiations. These targets will provide a yardstick against which to measure the progress of the negotiations.

These targets are challenging, but they are not unrealistic. Their attainment would show Japan’s resolve to achieve the ultimate objective of the negotiations that a vehicle manufactured and type approved in the EU should be accepted in Japan without further testing or modification.

ACEA recommends, among others, the following targets for the first year:

  1. Japan’s further alignment of its unique national technical requirements and certification procedures with international UN Regulations
  2. Specific measures to start the process of removing the discriminatory fiscal privileges currently enjoyed by kei-cars
  3. Generic exemption from customs inspection of automotive safety devices activated by compressed hydrogen
  4. Approval of high pressure gas tanks for automobile use which conform to foreign standards (including, but not limited to, EU standards and ISO standards)
  5. Relaxing of the zoning regulations for the establishment of automobile service shops ACEA will follow the negotiations closely to ensure that they lead to a balanced outcome which provides new opportunities for European automobile exports in Japan and jobs in the EU.

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About the EU automobile industry

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is the Brussels-based trade association of the 15 major car, van, truck and bus producers in Europe.
  • The automotive sector contributes positively to the EU trade balance with a €114.1 billion surplus.
  • This contribution is highly significant today as the EU economy as a whole struggles with a total trade deficit for goods of €152.8 billion.
  • Some 11.6 million people - or 5.3% of the EU employed population - work in the sector.
  • The 3.2 million jobs in automotive manufacturing represent 10.2% of EU's manufacturing employment.
  • The sector is also a key driver of knowledge and innovation, representing Europe's largest private contributor to R&D, with €26 billion invested annually.

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For further information, please contact Cara McLaughlin, Director of Communications, ACEA Tel: +32 2 738 73 45; Mobile: +32 485 88 66 47; cm@acea.be