Sunday, 15 September, 2019

European Union and Japan to sign historic trade deal

EU strikes free trade deal with Japan amid rising US protectionism Tokyo Japan Getty Images
Rhonda Young | 17 July, 2018, 19:24

The European Union and Japan will sign one of the world's biggest free trade deals later on Tuesday.

"Together we are making - by signing this agreement - a statement about free and fair trade, we are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together", added Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.

Tusk, the president of the European council and an outspoken critic of the Trump administration in recent months, was particularly keen to celebrate the shared values of the signatories, not only in terms of trade but also foreign policy.

The EU officials and Japan will also look to present a united front against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium, which Tokyo has called "deplorable".

"Both sides have granted concessions to the other (eg Japan on agriculture, and European Union on cars), and come up with a balanced outcome that will give world trade a significant boost at a time of marked uncertainty", he said.

"Today's signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is a landmark moment for global trade", he said.

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The Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement will eliminate almost all tariffs between the bloc and the world's third biggest economy.

Japanese vehicle and auto parts makers are also expected to increase their sales to Europe, where they have lagged behind European rivals.

The UK will be able to take advantage of the new deal during the Brexit implementation period, now scheduled to end in 2020, but it will then need to negotiate its own trade deal with Japan and with the EU.

The European Union and Japan are signing the single market's biggest trade deal ever and present a united front as Washington upends the worldwide trade order.

The deal is in stark contrast to the trade messages of the US President.

The European Union yesterday called on the United States, China and Russian Federation to work together to cool worsening global trade tension, warning that they could spiral into violent "conflict and chaos".

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On Sunday, the U.S. president fuelled rising rancour by labelling the European Union, along with Russian Federation and China, "a foe" of the United States, and repeating his assertion that the European Union has "really taken advantage of us on trade".

Shinzo Abe had been scheduled to sign the deal in Brussels last week, but cancelled his trip after devastating floods that killed more than 220 people.

The difference is due to exceptions such as rice, a product that's culturally and politically sensitive and has been protected for decades in Japan.

The major step toward liberalizing trade has been discussed since 2013. "The EU and Japan remain open for cooperation", European Council President Donald Tusk, who speaks for the 28 EU national leaders, told reporters.

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.

Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and 10 other states on his first day in office in January 2017 and has pushed to renegotiate a free trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

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Japanese consumers have historically coveted European products, and a drop in prices is likely to boost spending. Japan's growth continues to be heavily dependent on exports.

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