EU And Japan Finalise World's Largest Free-Trade Deal
The EU and Japan have finalised the largest bilateral trade agreement in the world, set to come into effect in early 2019.
The deal will see a significant reduction or elimination in Japan’s tariffs on imports of European produce such as meat, wine and dairy, while the EU will cease import duties on Japanese automobiles.
In a joint statement, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that this deal “demonstrates the powerful political will of Japan and the EU to continue to keep the flag of free trade waving high. It sends a clear signal to the world that the EU and Japan are committed to keeping the world economy working on the basis of free, open and fair markets, with clear and transparent rules, fully respecting and enhancing our values, fighting the temptation of protectionism.”
They added that the deal would create a “huge economic zone” of 600 million people, with approximately 30% of the world's GDP, and will open up further trade and investment opportunities.
The conclusion of the deal came on the same day as a long-awaited breakthrough in Brexit negotiations, which will allow for trade talks to begin.
EuroCommerce, the representative group for retail and wholesale organisations in Europe, believes that the deal is a ‘welcome signal to protectionists’.
“The trade agreement between the EU and Japan shows that, while some major players seemingly believe that the international trading system is on the ropes, the EU can deliver real benefits for businesses and consumers,” said Christian Verschueren, director general at EuroCommerce.
“This is the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU, and I hope a strong signal ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires next week that protectionists are pursuing an economic dead end,” Verschueren continued.
EuroCommerce considers Japan ‘a mature market of great interest’ for European retailers, and the reduction of tariffs on goods will now encourage European companies to look for more opportunities in this market.
“European traders want the deal to be implemented quickly,” added Verschueren.
“We will be pressing for the process for provisional application of the agreement to be speeded up, and also encouraging the Commission to continue work on addressing remaining non-tariff barriers, which hinder trade with Japan,” he concluded.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.