May 26, 2016 / 10:42 AM / a year ago

EU, Japan seek political agreement on trade pact within this year

From left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, European Council President Donald Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, walk to a tree planing ceremony as hey visit the Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan, Thursday, May 26, 2016, as part of the G7 Summit.Carolyn Kaster/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - The European Union and Japan on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to reaching a political agreement on a free trade deal as early as possible this year.

Both sides will aim to narrow the gaps during the summer before finalizing key elements such as auto and agricultural tariffs and government procurement over the autumn, they said in a joint statement.

Negotiations on the trade deal have been ongoing since March 2013 with the most recent round taking place in Tokyo in April.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan

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