EP approves landmark free trade deal with Japan

BRUSSELS, The European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday gave its consent to the trade agreement with Japan, said to be the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated by the European Union.

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan, approved with 474 votes to 152, will remove almost all customs duties adding up to 1 billion euros (USD 1.13 billion) annually for EU companies.

Welcoming the agreement, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Almost five centuries after Europeans established the first trade ties with Japan, the entry into force of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will bring our trade, political and strategic relationship to a whole new level.” The EP also approved today the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Japan by 535 votes to 84, which extends cooperation to areas such as energy, education, research and development, and the fight against climate change and terrorism.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is looking forward to this economic agreement with Japan as she labels it as “the biggest trade zone ever negotiated,” which will bring clear benefits to our companies, farmers, service providers, and others, she added.

On his part, Pedro Silva Pereira, the EP rapporteur in charge of the trade agreement expressed his approval to pronounce it as “a key milestone for fair trade based on rules and values, amid rising protectionism.” Japan has already ratified the agreement after the EP endorsed the trade deal, and the EU Council of Ministers is set to give its final go-ahead on 21 December which allows the deal to enter into force on 1 February 2019.

For the strategic partnership agreement to go into effect, all EU member states have to ratify it.

The EU-Japan free trade deal, signed on 17 July 2018, creates a trade zone of 600 million people and covers a third of global GDP and about 40 percent of global trade.

Source: Kuwait News Agency