EU, Japan schedule summit to strike trade deal

The European Union and Japan will hold a summit on July 6 in hopes of sealing broad agreement on a massive trade deal after four years of tough negotiations.

The landmark deal would mark a big victory for free trade just days before a G-20 summit in Germany in which U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to defend his "America First" protectionist stance.

The hastily-planned Brussels meeting will be attended by Tusk, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and follows weeks of intense negotiations in Tokyo.

The EU and Japanese economies combined account for a colossal 28 percent of global output.

"EU-Japan Summit on Thursday. Ambitious free and fair trade deal in the making," European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted.

 "At the summit, leaders are expected to announce a political agreement on the EU-Japan free trade agreement and the EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement," a statement said separately.

At this stage, the EU and Japan are expected to reach only a "political agreement" on the trade deal, that would still cover some of the accord's toughest aspects.     

A complete deal would be formally signed later in the year, according to EU plans.

Premier Abe in Tokyo said that the deal was not done and sent Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to Brussels for talks on Wednesday to iron out final differences.

"While staying mindful of the sensitive areas for both sides, I will do everything until the final moment to achieve the best outcome for our national interest," Kishida said before his departure to Europe.

At the heart of the accord is an agreement for the EU to open its market to the world-leading Japanese auto industry,...

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