I'm in Tokyo for a few days of meetings leading up to the EU-Japan Summit on Friday of this week. I am meeting several ministers to discuss the way forward in our negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan. More to come this week on the blog on that subject.
Today, however, I'm encouraged by events back in Brussels; the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Habib Essid, is visiting the European Commission headquarters, meeting with EU High Representative and Vice President of the Commission Federica Mogherini. Unfortunately, I could not be there to meet Prime Minister Essid today, but I was delighted to hear his announcement that Tunisia is ready to launch negotiations on an ambitious partnership with the EU on trade and investment matters. This will be a major step towards progressively integrating Tunisia in the EU internal market and making Tunisia more attractive for investments. I will be glad to travel to Tunisia in the autumn to launch these negotiations with my Tunisian counterpart.
Tunisia has always been a country at the forefront of Euro-Mediterranean trade relations. The EU is Tunisia's main trading partner and main source of imports and exports. Last year, total trade amounted to approximately 20,34 billion euros. The amount of trade between us has continued to grow ever since the entry into force of the Association Agreement between the EU and Tunisia in 1998, but much potential remains untapped.
Meanwhile, Tunisia's democratic progress of recent years is a true success story and an inspiring example for the region as a whole. During my years as Commissioner for Home Affairs, I worked to establish a mobility partnership with Tunisia, including visa facilitation. I am happy that this work is continuing under the leadership of Commissioner Avramopoulos.
I see the year 2015 as a crucial one for EU relations with our North African partners. The EU stands ready to give a new push to the already launched negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Morocco, and to start new such negotiations with Tunisia. We need more trade, more investment, and more cooperation across the Mediterranean.