The HLED was co-chaired by Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness, with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Yasutoshi Nishimura.
This second meeting of the HLED confirmed EU-Japanese strategic alignment on key economic and geopolitical challenges. On the agenda were current trade challenges, the follow-up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, and sustainable finance. On support for the rules-based order, the EU invited Japan to join the multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement (known as the ‘MPIA’), a stopgap arrangement open to all WTO Members until a lasting reform of WTO dispute settlement has been agreed multilaterally.
Another topic of discussion was the trade-related focus of Japan’s 2023 G7 Presidency, on which the two sides agreed to maintain close cooperation in the areas of securing a global level-playing field and economic security. The Ministers welcomed the launch of negotiations on including rules on data flows in the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. The first round of negotiations took place in Brussels on 24 October and the next round will take place in Tokyo in December.
The HLED discussed new economic policies and ambitions on both sides. The Ministers exchanged views on their respective flagship initiatives to foster domestic investment, notably Japan’s 'New form of Capitalism' and the EU’s recovery policy 'NextGenerationEU'. The Ministers discussed the EU-Japan Connectivity Partnership and increasing synergies between the EU Global Gateway strategy and Japan’s infrastructure and energy projects in third countries.
The two sides also discussed the latest state of play of sustainable finance, mainly concerning transition finance, taxonomy and disclosures. The EU and Japan expressed their firm commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and honouring their commitments under the Paris Agreement. The Ministers agreed on the utmost importance of mobilising private investment and ensuring a strong international collaborative effort globally. The Ministers welcomed and discussed the excellent cooperation between the EU and Japan on sustainable finance, including at the G20 and in the framework of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance. The meeting also allowed the EU to raise concerns about delayed market access for EU agri-food exporters due to Japanese lengthy and burdensome sanitary and phytosanitary approval procedures.
Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “In these turbulent times, the EU and Japan are more aligned than ever when it comes to the fundamental challenges we face. Our Strategic Partnership allows us to cooperate closely in a wide range of areas, from foreign and security policy, to climate change, to trade and economic policy. We aim to build on our Economic Partnership Agreement - full and effective implementation should remain a key political priority. Japan’s 2023 G7 Presidency comes at a crucial time, and the EU stands ready to work closely with our Japanese partners in the year ahead. We are particularly grateful to Japan for being a staunch and consistent ally in putting pressure on Russia for its illegal and brutal aggression against Ukraine.”
“I also welcome the launch of negotiations on data flows with Japan. Modern and effective rules in this growing area of the economy are essential. They will help to ensure that EU and Japanese companies engaged in cross-border operations, and their consumers, reap the full benefits of our bilateral trade relations. We are confident that our discussions will be swift, allowing us to achieve substantial progress ahead of our next Summit.”
The Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and the Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness, said: “Today, as the world faces challenges on several fronts, the green transition has never been more important. Our ambition is to be climate neutral and within a relatively short timeframe. This can only be achieved with a coordinated international effort. Today’s Economic Dialogue is a good example of cooperation across borders, and we celebrate the excellent, close and fruitful relation between the EU and Japan. The EU will further develop the EU sustainable finance and the EU transition finance frameworks based on the EU Taxonomy, disclosure tools and international partnerships. Japan and the EU are actively leading in the area of sustainable finance, striving towards a shared objective and facing common challenges. It is important to have an open approach and to work with the international community sharing our experience and learning from others.”
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The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement entered into force three years ago. Over this period, it has proven to be the bedrock of the EU-Japan economic relationship and in 2021, trade in goods between the two partners recovered to pre-pandemic levels, reaching 125 billion euros, confirming strong and resilient trade ties between the EU and Japan.
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