Japanese minister to visit Britain for ‘difficult’ talks on trade deal

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during a press briefing in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 10, 2020. — Reuters pic
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during a press briefing in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 10, 2020. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Aug 4 — Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will visit Britain this week for what he said will be difficult talks with British Trade Minister Liz Truss, in the hope of finding middle ground and concluding a post-Brexit trade deal.

“It is indispensable to swiftly form a framework for trade and investment between Japan and Britain that will replace the Japan-EU EPA to ensure the smooth continuation of bilateral businesses,” Motegi told reporters today, referring to an economic partnership agreement with the EU.

The two countries hope to clinch a deal before Britain’s transition out of the European Union concludes at the year end, to avoid any gaps in bilateral trade arrangements.

Motegi’s August 5-7 visit to Britain will be the first overseas trip for any Japanese government minister since the global spread of the novel coronavirus, he said.

“Difficult negotiations such as this, where national interest is at stake, cannot be conducted over the telephone,” he told a regular news conference.

“We will negotiate face-to-face. I’m afraid negotiations will last many hours, but I would like to find middle ground and reach an agreement.” — Reuters

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