EU, Japan agree on free-trade deal

Friday, 07 Jul, 2017

A broad agreement is expected to be reached on July 6 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and other top EU officials. "Despite protectionist movements, we can send a powerful, positive message to the world through this initial agreement", said Kishida after meeting with his European Union counterpart.

"We believe we should not build walls or raise protectionism", she said.

The agreement sets high labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection standards and fully safeguards public services with a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. "The addition of Japan as a potentially important export outlet, particularly for sectors such as beef and dairy which are especially exposed to the impact of Brexit, is hugely important, and an opportunity which we shall waste no time in exploiting".

It is expected that the deal will liberalize 99 percent of trade between Japan and the European Union, benefiting Japan's autos industry and the EU's farming sector in particular, according to BBC reports. (Duties would come down more rapidly for some vehicle components.) That is a key concession: The Japanese automotive giants Toyota and Honda have claimed a smaller market share in Europe than in other major markets like the United States.

EU officials insist that the deal will be a major boon for European farmers who would gain access to a huge market that appreciates European products.

Of those items, European cheese and Japanese autos proved particularly hard negotiations, but both sides have agreed to reduce tariffs for those items to zero over 15 and seven years respectively. On pork there will be duty-free trade in processed meat and nearly duty-free trade for fresh meat.

A landmark trade deal with Canada almost came unstuck past year when Wallonia, a region of Belgium, withheld its approval until its concerns were dealt with by the country's political leaders. "It makes a statement about the future of open and fair trade in today's world". The bloc's top court ruled that the agreement in "its current form" can not be handled by the Commission acting alone.

One condition for the immediate removal of wine tariffs was that Europe would accept Japanese production methods. "Also Japan will get access to the European vehicle market, as most of the tariffs that are now in place for Japanese cars plays out in the next few years", Mr. Koutsomitis told Sputnik.

In addition, an immediate tariff elimination of between 3% and 4% will be applied on approximately 92% of Japanese auto parts.

The European Commission also noted that the deal will "include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement". Japan will have to ratify a few core International Labour Organisation conventions to be in compliance with the agreement.

Not quite. The biggest issue that has not yet been agreed is how to ensure investors have a way to resolve disputes that arise as a result of the deal.

"Closing ourselves off to the world is neither good for business, nor for the global economy, nor for workers", Juncker said. "These are the best tools to harness and shape globalization and create more economic growth and jobs".

However, the trade agreement is not all good news.

He added that the deal was not just about common trade interests, but reflected "the shared values that underpin our societies, by which I mean liberal democracy, human rights and the rule of law".