German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Wednesday to push ahead with negotiations on a European Union (EU)-Japan trade agreement. They made the remarks at a joint press conference after their meeting. Abe paid a visit to Germany on Wednesday, kicking off his 10-day Europe tour. Merkel said both leaders showed willingness to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation and push ahead with negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FAT) between Japan and the EU, expressing hope that the deal can be signed in 2015. The chancellor told reporters that a trade agreement with Japan would greatly improve trade relations and also be of great importance for Germany as an export nation. Japan is the EU's seventh largest trading partner globally, and the EU is Japan's third largest trading partner. Brussels and Tokyo held the first round of FAT talks in April 2013. According to an EU press release, an agreement between the two economic giants is expected to boost Europe's economy by 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent of its GDP and will result in creation of 400,000 jobs. It is expected that the EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7 percent, while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by 23.5 percent. Merkel and Abe also pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation in fields such as security and energy.