EU backs free trade talks with Japan
European Union foreign ministers say they have agreed to open free trade negotiations with Japan.
Cyprus' commerce minister Neoklis Sylikiotis, whose country holds the bloc's rotating chairmanship, says Thursday talks could start in the next few months. They are likely to last about three years.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht says an agreement would generate about 400,000 jobs in Europe and boost GDP by 0.8 percent.
The EU is looking at ways to spur growth as many countries struggle under a weighty debt burden.
The EU is also close to concluding free trade agreements with Canada and Singapore, and is looking at ways to boost trade with the United States, which currently amounts to about (EURO)1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) a day.