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Japan, EU set to seal free trade pact

TOKYO -- Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is set to finalize a broad agreement on a free trade deal with the European Union this week, before its expected official announcement, Tokyo said Tuesday.

"It is extremely important to reach a broad agreement early and raise the flag of free trade amid protectionist moves seen worldwide," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a cabinet meeting, according to Jiji Press.

Kishida is scheduled to hold talks on Wednesday with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who was in Tokyo over the weekend for two days of talks on the proposed trade pact.

Abe is then expected to join EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for talks on Thursday, after which the leaders will officially announce the deal.

The two sides have yet to reach a final agreement on the deal as they remain divided over tariffs on cars and farm and dairy products such as cheese.

The EU said early Tuesday that Abe, EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker would hold the summit on Thursday, a day before the G-20 meeting in Germany.

The EU and Japanese leaders "are expected to announce a political agreement on the EU-Japan free trade agreement and the EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement," it said.

A trade deal between the two sides, a market of 637 million people, would cover about 28 per cent of the world's economy.

The EU imposes tariffs of 10 percent on cars and 14 percent on electronic products, while Japan has tariffs of 29.8 percent on cheese and 38.5 percent on beef.

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