JAMA chairman Saikawa adds that the industry hopes the consensus achieved on the Japan-EU deal will promote the conclusion of negotiations on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership accord between ASEAN countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, and the early implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, even without U.S. participation.

Looking at additional details of the Japan-EU deal, hydrogen-fueled cars get a boost, with Japan agreeing to recognize EU type-approval with no further modifications and only what the report describes as “very limited labeling obligations on the hydrogen-pressure tank.” This agreement means direct access to the Japanese market for European hydrogen-car makers without forcing them to use costly specialized Japanese steel and saving almost three years’ testing.

EU automakers also could send prototypes to Japan for testing and validation, using the hydrogen filling-station network to fine-tune cars.

Both ACEA and the European Parliament’s European United Left group emphasize the EU only signed the political agreement July 6, not the final deal. But an ACEA spokesman says, “The fact that the EU and Japan have announced a political accord to conclude negotiations for an FTA is a positive signal for international trade.”

Fine-tuning is ongoing and possibly will not be completed until December, he says, adding, “Once all texts become available, ACEA and its members will analyze their full implications on the EU auto industry.”

Notably ACEA wants to see Japan offer subcompact models made in Europe the same tax breaks and regulatory advantages as its niche “kei” cars – ultralight passenger and utility vehicles with engines smaller than 0.65L.

“ACEA expects that Japan will be willing to make a firm commitment to redress the imbalance in the taxation of ‘kei’ cars,” the spokesman says, adding, “It is estimated that subcompact cars pay more than three times the annual tax rate compared to kei cars.”

In its pre-summit statement the ACEA also called for the agreement to include rules-of-origin provisions like those found in other FTAs which prevent Japan from exporting vehicles made with large proportions of foreign parts.

“Any relaxation in rules of origin could have a significant impact on the competitiveness of our industry, and thus on the overall balance of the agreement,” Jonnaert warns.

Left-wing EU politicians already are claiming the EU has sold out its automakers for agri-food concessions in the deal. German European United Left MEP Helmut Scholz, the group’s representative on the European Parliament’s international trade committee, says, “The already troubled car producers in Italy and France will be among those who are not celebrating the announcement of this deal.”

with Julian Ryall in Tokyo