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Economic and Social Committee on EC/Japan relations

The Economic and Social Committee unanimously adopted an Opinion on the European Community's relations with Japan at its 307th Plenary Session on 30.6.1993.

The Opinion, drawn up independently by the Committee (i.e. not in response to a specific request from the Commission), ...
The Economic and Social Committee unanimously adopted an Opinion on the European Community's relations with Japan at its 307th Plenary Session on 30.6.1993.

The Opinion, drawn up independently by the Committee (i.e. not in response to a specific request from the Commission), is now published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. It sets out to consider medium and long-term guidelines for economic and political relations between the EC and Japan, noting that these relations have improved considerably since the EC/Japan Joint Declaration of 18.7.1991.

The Opinion recommends that the EC and Japan should not aggravate short-term trade frictions but should investigate their causes and find ways of restoring the trade balance. It also calls for a thorough consideration of the scale of the Japanese trade surplus and of the opportunities which the uses of the resulting financial surpluses might offer.

The Committee considers that it might be possible to embark on a new phase in joint ventures between EC and Japanese firms, both within the Community and elsewhere, as part of the wide-ranging economic and political cooperation suggested by a recent report from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other Japanese and EC advances towards more extensive cooperation, in the form of reports and Declarations by both parties, are discussed in the Opinion. EC/Japan relations in the light of the world economic recession, together with methods of restoring the trade balance, are also examined. With regard to the Japanese trade surplus, it is considered that the priority should be to develop activities in which the two areas can play a complementary role and integrate further.

The case of US/Japan relations is cited, where Japanese subscription to US government securities, a substantial rise in productive investment by Japanese firms in US territory, and property investment provided a threefold outlet for the large Japanese surplus.

The Committee believes that a strong boost for manufacturing, financial and technological cooperation between EC and Japanese firms could play a key role in relaunching the European economy and making it more technologically advanced, and could also help the ambitious projects scheduled for the internal market.

Endorsing this open outlook, the Committee nevertheless points out the crucial need for European industry to become more competitive, both internally and internationally.

It also makes reference to the need for joint ventures between EC and Japanese firms to tackle the huge task of guiding the countries of Central and Eastern Europe towards a market economy.

Finally, the Committee points out that closer political cooperation and joint ventures must be preceded by steps to improve our understanding of our respective people's cultures, values and aspirations. This will require the launching of a wide-ranging programme of conferences, exchange of observations, and proposals for research on topics of common interest.

The joint initiative of the FAST/MONITOR programmes (EC programmes in the field of strategic analysis, forecasting and evaluation in matters of research and technology) and of the Japanese Council on International Affairs is considered one major instance of closer cultural links. Proposals of the joint initiative include the creation of a "Euro-Japan Institute", envisaged as an open, independent and decentralized body which will provide a point of reference for researchers, universities, economic operators and socio-occupational groups.

In a 1991 Opinion, the Economic and Social Committee suggested possible topics for EC/Japan joint research. In tandem with the present Opinion, the Committee has drawn up an Appendix (not published in this edition of the Official Journal) outlining key topics which could be examined by joint committees set up by the Commission and its counterpart Japanese organizations.

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