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Japan’s Abe and Germany’s Merkel talk up free trade, urge ‘sluggish’ EU to sign key deal

Baku, March 20, AZERTAC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday urged the European Union (EU) to finally sign a free trade deal with Japan following nearly four years of negotiations.

According to CNBC, both leaders touted the benefits of free trade in an increasingly digital age.

Negotiations between the EU and Japan for a free trade agreement began on March 25, 2013, but has faced roadblocks because of disagreements over issues from auto industry regulations to limits on Europe's food goods.

Abe called on negotiators to close the deal soon.

Abe framed his comments around the need for connectedness among countries, just as technology increasingly is becoming connected. Talking about the internet of things (IOT) — the billions of internet-connected devices expected to come online in the next few years — Abe said that Germany and Japan need to work together to drive innovation.

The Japanese prime minister called for "common technology standards" across the world to help this. "IOT will connect everything," Abe said.

He added: "It is through connectedness that economies will grow, Japan having grown through reaping … the benefits of free trade and investment, wants to be the champion upholding open systems alongside Germany."

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