European Union secures free trade deal with Japan

Earlier this week the European Union (EU) and Japan agreed on a major free trade deal after the European Parliament voted in favour of the agreement.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit in March, the UK would not be covered in more than 50 trade deals the EU has negotiated, including this latest one with Japan.

The EU’s Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom said: “Our economic partnership with Japan – the biggest trade zone ever negotiated – is now very close to becoming a reality.”

“That’s good news for the EU and all supporters of an open and fair international trading system.”

The EU-Japan deal will generate a trading zone which will include 635 million people and contribute to a third of global GDP.

For Japan, this deal means it can increase access for its domestic car manufactures to the European market.

European exporters will benefit from drastically reduced Japanese agricultural import tariffs, with Brussels estimating savings for EU firms of £900 million (€1 billion) a year in duties.

As part of the contract, Japan will also open up its public procurement market to European firms, as well as liberalising postal services and maritime transport.

This is the first trade deal which includes a specific commitment to the Paris Accords on climate change, which will now come into force on 1 February 2019.

Because of the form and scope of the deal, it is more than likely to influence any post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the EU, presuming the UK leaves the alliance in March 2019.

Earlier this year, Shinichi Iida, Japan’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Media, said: “His country’s first and foremost priority was rubber-stamping the Brussels deal before work could begin on a free trade agreement with the UK.”

But he added that: “Once the Japan-EU economic partnership agreement comes into force, it could provide a very good and sound basis for the future trade between Japan and UK.”