EU, Japan close to reaching in-principle agreement on free trade deal: European Commission

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom (left) and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (second from right) attending their meeting as a part of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations on June 30, 2017.
European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom (left) and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (second from right) attending their meeting as a part of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations on June 30, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and Japan are close to reaching an agreement in principle on a free trade deal, the European Commission said on Monday (July 3).

"An agreement in principle between the EU and Japan is within reach," a spokesman for the Commission told a regular press briefing. "We are hopeful, we are confident, we are not yet certain,"he added.

A trade accord with the world's third-largest economy would be the European Union's biggest trade scalp to date.

The EU has forecast trade between the two could increase by a third, boosting the EU economy by 0.8 per cent and Japan's by 0.3 per cent over the long term.