At the EU-Japan summit in Tokyo, Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, signed the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The trade agreement is the biggest ever negotiated by the EU and will create an open trade zone covering over 600 million people.
The agreement will remove the vast majority of the EUR 1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers, for example on cars. It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.
The Economic Partnership Agreement will also in addition strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in a range of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development, and include for the first time a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
The agreement also opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. It furthermore guarantees EU companies access to the large procurement markets of 48 large Japanese cities, and removes obstacles to procurement in the economically important railway sector at national level.
Concerning data protection, the EU and Japan concluded the negotiations on reciprocal adequacy, which will complement the Economic Partnership Agreement. They agreed to recognise each other’s data protection systems as ‘equivalent’, which will allow data to flow safely between the EU and Japan, creating the world’s largest area of safe data flows.
The agreement is now awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and the Japanese Diet following which it could enter into force in 2019.
”The document we signed today is much more than a trade agreement. It is of course a tool that will create opportunities for our companies, our workers and our citizens and that will boost the European and Japanese economies. But it is also a statement. It is a statement by two likeminded partners that together represent nearly a third of the world’s GDP and reiterate their commitment to uphold the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection”, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker remarked.
“The EU and Japan showed an undeterred determination to lead the world as flag-bearers for free trade,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said following the signing of the agreement.
”Together with Japan, we are sending a strong signal to the world that two of its biggest economies still believe in open trade, opposing both unilateralism and protectionism. The economic benefits of this agreement are clear. By removing billions of euros of duties, simplifying customs procedures and tackling behind-the-border barriers to trade, it will offer opportunities for companies on both sides to boost their exports and expand their business”, Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, stated.
”Within the signed agreement, new perspectives for the European Rail Supply Industry will occur and also there is hope for a real level-playing field in Japan, but monitoring the agreement will be key”, the European Rail Industry Association (UNIFE) said.