EU executive proposes Japan free trade talks despite car manufacturers’ protest


BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union’s executive on Wednesday proposed starting free trade talks with Japan — despite protestations from carmakers that a recent trade deal with South Korea was already crippling an ailing industry.

“There are a number of problems that have to be resolved in the car market … but we have to sort this out independently of free trade agreements,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Wednesday.

A free trade deal with Japan — which has a strong car industry — could boost the EU’s economy by 1 percentage point and create 400,000 new jobs, the commissioner said, predicting that it would take about five years to conclude negotiations.