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FRANCE: Toyota stresses importance of Europe-Japan Free Trade Agreement

By Simon Warburton | 15 November 2013

“I hope Europe will understand that [FTA] is a good deal for both sides of the world" - Toyota Europe CEO Didier Leroy

“I hope Europe will understand that [FTA] is a good deal for both sides of the world" - Toyota Europe CEO Didier Leroy

Toyota says the current round of negotiations between Europe and Japan surrounding a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for both blocks would be a "good deal" for the two sides.

Three rounds of talks have so far taken place with a fourth scheduled early next year, as the European Union (EU) estimates any agreement could see exports from the Continent to Japan increase by nearly 37% and create 400,000 jobs.

"I hope Europe will understand that [FTA] is a good deal for both sides of the world," Toyota Motor Europe president and CEO, Didier Leroy, told just-auto on the sidelines of this week's Nord France Invest automotive conference in Lille.

"It can be an opportunity for Europe to lead what [are] the future regulations in the world."

The talks are aimed at securing a comprehensive agreement on goods, services and investment, eliminating tariffs, non-tariff barriers and covering other trade-related issues, such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and sustainable development.

Leroy was warming to a theme he outlined earlier in the day at the conference, titled: 'The Lille Region, an engine of the European automotive industry,' concerning the FTA potential with Japan.

"People are fighting over very petty fights - they are saying we will have masses of Japanese vehicles here," he said. "I want to say the market share of Japanese vehicles is lower than the market share of European cars sold in Japan.

"What we have not understood in in Europe is future regulations regarding safety, environment, et cetera, Europe is the leader everywhere. Who will carry out tomorrow's regulations? Japan, no way.

"By signing FTAs - of course there will be one or two things that will be an issue - but we will be able to [have] European regulations to the globe and from there we will try to find another share of the market. This will be a huge step."

Japan is the EU's seventh largest trading partner globally and the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia after China.

Conversely, the European Union is Japan's third largest trading partner, after China and the US.

Together the European Union and Japan account for more than one third of world GDP.