European Union and Japan to sign historic trade deal

Cornelia Mascio
Luglio 18, 2018

Pointedly referring to Trump without actually naming him, Tusk insisted that the EU-Japan trade deal was "an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based global order, at a time when some are questioning this order".

The EU said the trade liberalisation will help raise European exports of chemicals, clothing, cosmetics and beer to Japan.

Juncker said the deal sent a message that "trade is about more than tariffs and barriers, it is about values".

The price of European wine and pork will fall for consumers in Japan.

"Right now, concerns are rising over protectionism all around the world", Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying by The Japan Times."We are sending out a message emphasizing the importance of a trade system based on free and fair rules".

The entering into force of the agreement will bring into reality a massive free trade zone that accounts for about 30 percent of the world's gross domestic product, with a population of about 600 million.

The signing was delayed from earlier this month because Abe cancelled going to Brussels over a disaster in south-western Japan caused by extremely heavy rainfall, with more than 200 people dying in floods and landslides.

The pact - which both Japan and the European Union aim to have come into force by early next year - will abolish or reduce tariffs on industrial products and agricultural items between the two sides and sets rules on investment, which is expected to help enhance opportunities for further two-way trade and investment.

The huge deal was signed as President Donald Trump unsettles allies and provokes rivals with his aggressive "America First" trade policy.

The United States this month imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods to lower the US trade deficit, and China quickly retaliated with an increase in tariffs on USA goods.

As with China on Monday, the European Union also insisted with Japan on the "crucial role" of maintaining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the basis of the multilateral trading system, with a commitment to reform it.

The major step toward liberalising trade was discussed in talks since 2013 but is striking in the timing of the signing, as China and the U.S. are embroiled in trade conflicts. Japan is also especially interested in eliminating tariffs on industrial products and improvement of regulatory issues.

Since then, his "America First" policy has seen tariffs introduced on a range of items, including steel, which both Japan and the European Union export to the US. The partnership includes Australia, Mexico, Vietnam and other nations, although the U.S. has withdrawn.

Japan is Ireland's third-most important market in Asia, with €94m worth of agri-food produce exported there in 2017.

The digital services sector also looks set to benefit from the European Commission's decision of adequacy in relation to Japan's data protection regime, which paves the way for data transfers between the EU and Japan, including within businesses.

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