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News Summary: Japan, EU to start free-trade talks

The Associated Press

European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht smiles before meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Monday, March 25, 2013. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will discuss a possible free trade pact with the European Union even as a summit in Tokyo to launch the negotiations is postponed because of the financial crisis in Cyprus. De Gucht is in Tokyo and meeting with Japanese government and business officials as scheduled. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

FREE TRADE: Japan and the European Union agreed Monday to start negotiations for a free-trade pact encompassing nations that account for nearly a third of the world economy.

JAPAN'S INTEREST: Resistance to lower tariffs is high in some Japanese industries, such as rice farmers. But manufacturers are concerned about being left behind by the trade agreements that other countries are negotiating. Among the likely beneficiaries of free trade are Japan's manufacturing exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp.

EUROPE'S STAKE: The EU is Japan's third-largest destination for exports, and Japan's second-largest source of imports after China. The EU says a free trade agreement with Japan could boost Europe's economy by 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent and EU exports to Japan could increase by 32 percent. The deal could also create 420,000 jobs in Europe, it said.