After 48 hours in Japan, I am slowly getting accustomed to the subtropical climate. We've been having summer temperatures here, so quite a welcome change from the chilly Brussels spring. It's my first ever visit to Tokyo, a bustling, beautiful metropolis with a deep cultural heritage.
Today, I am attending the Summit between EU and Japan, together with Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini. It will be a good opportunity to give a push to our negotiations on an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and to agree on common approaches for the future when it comes to fighting climate change, concluding the Doha Development Round, and other issues.
In the days leading up to the Summit, I have been meeting several Ministers in the Japanese Government to discuss our ongoing trade negotiations. We have been working on an FTA since 2013, and with ten rounds of talks behind us we have made serious progress. This is an agreement which could generate significant economic benefits for both the EU and Japan, because it is clear that the present level of trade between us is not reaching its full potential. For example, in a fresh set of statistics released yesterday, Eurostat pointed out that EU imports of goods from Japan have fallen since 2011 to €54.6 bn in 2014, the lowest level recorded in the last decade. So, much can be done to making sure that both our markets can truly maximise the benefits of increased trade.
It is important for the success of these negotiations that Japan addresses issues that are of concern for us on the EU side - such as systems for public procurement which make it very hard for European companies to participate in railway and other public transportation projects. Such reform would allow Japan's authorities to have access to excellent technologies at the best prices. Consumers, ultimately, would be the winners. Open public procurement markets are of benefit for all.
We also want to advance the negotiations in other areas, such as trade in goods, services, investment and geographical indications. For more on this topic, have a look at my speech at the Japanese business federation Keidanren this morning.
However, progress in our talks has been too modest in our last few rounds to be confident that we can finalise these negotiations this year. Still, we are committed to conclude as soon as possible and our intention at the Summit is to discuss how to accelerate the talks further. As with all our trade agreements, substance must prevail over speed. We need a good, comprehensive deal to deliver growth on both sides.