EU and Japan reach agreement in principle
As reported last week (Support grows for EU-Japan deal), a fair wind was growing behind the proposed EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement/Free Trade Agreement (EPA/FTA).
Now the two sides have reached an “agreement in principle” on the main elements of an EPA, described by the European Commission as the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU.
As such, for the first time, a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement has been included.
For the EU Member States, the new agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by their companies, which add up to €1 billion annually, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports and increase opportunities in a range of sectors.
The EPA sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, fully safeguards public services and has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development, the Commission has pointed out.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that it demonstrated that the EU and Japan, democratic and open global partners, believe in free trade.
Among other provisions, the agreement scraps duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently stand at 29.8%) as well as on wine exports (currently at 15% on average).
“Based on today’s agreement in principle,” the Commission explained, “negotiators from 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.”
See europa.eu for full details of the agreement.