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EU executive proposes Japan free trade talks despite car manufacturers' protest

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union's executive on Wednesday proposed starting free trade talks with Japan — despite protestations from carmakers that a recent trade deal with South Korea was already crippling an ailing industry.

“There are a number of problems that have to be resolved in the car market ... but we have to sort this out independently of free trade agreements,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Wednesday.

A free trade deal with Japan — which has a strong car industry — could boost the EU's economy by 1 percentage point and create 400,000 new jobs, the commissioner said, predicting that it would take about five years to conclude negotiations.

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