EU-Japan trade agreement to be signed today

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

An historic trade agreement between the European Union and Japan is to be signed this week.

A trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Japan is to be signed today (July 17th), marking the single market's largest trade deal ever.

EU council president Donald Tusk and commission head Jean-Claude Juncker are to land in Japan to meet prime minister Shinzo Abe following talks in Beijing in order to sign the historic document at the 25th EU-Japan Summit.

This landmark deal, entitled the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), was agreed last December and, according to commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, will create an open trade zone covering almost a third of the world's GDP.

Some 99 per cent of tariffs are to be completely eliminated as a result, which currently cost businesses in the EU and Japan a collective €1 billion every year.

The EPA was the result of four years of negotiation and is expected to come into effect towards the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in autumn 2019. 

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said upon the finalization of the deal: "The EU and Japan share a common vision for an open and rules-based world economy that guarantees the highest standards. We are sending a message to other countries about the importance of free and fair trade, and of shaping globalization."

The total trade volume of goods and services between the EU and Japan is currently €86 billion, but this is likely to increase as the EU attempts to boost alliances in the face of the protectionism being shown by the US Trump administration.

Japan has already heavily criticized the US tariffs on steel and aluminium, calling them "deplorable".

The EPA will see the EU open its market to the automobile industry in Japan, while Tokyo will scrap barriers to farming products from the EU. Eventually, EU import tariffs on Japanese cars will fall to zero.

EU developers will also have access to Japanese public infrastructure projects such as railways, while chemical exports from the EU to Japan are expected to go up, as are mechanical engineering shipments and exports related to computing.

The EPA comes at a time when Japan is attempting to boost its economy and the EU is attempting to access one of the world's richest markets, as well as to protect itself from disagreements with the US.