Connect with us


#EUJapan: Signed, sealed and nearly delivered - Europe shows its free-trade stripes




The European Union and Japan have reached an agreement on the main elements of an EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (6 July). The bilateral trade agreement will be the largest ever concluded by the EU and for the first time include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement and is an important signal to the United States in particular that the EU and Japan stand united on these important issues before the G20 meeting , writes Catherine Feore.

The EU Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies, which sum up to €1 billion annually, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports and increase opportunities in a range of sectors.

The agreement sets high labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection standards and fully safeguards public services with a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. It also builds on and reinforces the high standards for the protection of personal data that both, the EU and Japan, have recently entrenched in their data protection laws.

President Juncker said: "Today we agreed in principle on an Economic Partnership Agreement, the impact of which goes far beyond our shores. Through this agreement, the EU and Japan uphold their shared values and commit to the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection. Working towards mutual adequacy decisions, we also make a strong commitment to uphold the fundamental right of data protection. Together, we are sending a strong message to the world that we stand for open and fair trade. As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism. Only by working together will we be able to set ambitious global standards. This will be the message that the EU and Japan will bring together to the G20 tomorrow."

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "This agreement has an enormous economic importance, but it is also a way to bring us closer. We are demonstrating that the EU and Japan, democratic and open global partners, believe in free trade. That we believe in building bridges, not walls. With Japan being the fourth largest economy of the world with a big appetite for European products, this is a deal that has a vast potential for Europe. We expect a major boost of exports in many sectors of the EU economy."

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "This is a win-win for both partners, but a big win for rural Europe. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is the most significant and far-reaching agreement ever concluded in agriculture. Today, we are setting a new benchmark in trade in agriculture. Tariffs on wine exports will disappear from day one of entry into force. For wine producers this means a saving of €134 million a year. Equally the Austrian Tiroler Speck, the German Münchener Bier, the Belgian Jambon d'Ardenne, the Polska Wódka as well as over 200 other EU Geographical Indications will now enjoy the same level of protection in Japan that they have in Europe."

It is hoped that the value of exports from the EU could increase by as much as €20 billion, meaning more possibilities and jobs in many EU sectors such as agriculture and food products, leather, clothing and shoes, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others.


Nevertheless, there are still so important provisions “sensitive economic sectors of the EU, for instance in the automotive sector” will enjoy transition periods before markets are opened.


President of the European Council said: “In the context of the discussion about Brexit, we have heard statements claiming that it isn't worth being in the European Union, as it is easier to do global trade outside of the EU. Today we have shown that this is not true. The EU is more and more engaged globally. And ahead of the EU are negotiations with Mercosur countries, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and others.”

North Korea

Tusk said that he fully supported Japan’s call on the international community to strengthen measures aimed at further restricting the transfer of relevant items and technologies, as well as funding, for North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. In this regard we appeal for the early adoption of a new and comprehensive UN Security Council Resolution.

Next steps

The agreement in principle covers most aspects of the Economic Partnership Agreement. In some chapters technical details still need to be ironed out, and there are also chapters that remain outside the scope of the agreement in principle, for example on investment protection. The EU has put its reformed Investment Court System on the table and will reach out to all our partners, including Japan, to work towards the setting up of a Multilateral Investment Court. Other areas that require further work include regulatory cooperation and the general and institutional chapters.

Both sides will continue their work to resolve all the remaining technical issues and conclude a final text of the agreement by the end of the year.

Share this article:

EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.