EU signs its biggest free trade deal with Japan
The European Union and Japan have signed one of the world’s biggest free trade deals, covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP and 600 million people.
One of the biggest EU exports to Japan is dairy goods, while cars are one of Japan’s biggest exports.
The move contrasts sharply with actions by the US Trump administration, which has introduced steep import tariffs.
EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal underlined the “win-win” solutions offered by free trade.
Mr Juncker said: “[The] impact of today’s agreement goes far beyond our shores. Together we are a making, by signing this agreement, a statement about the future of free and fair trade.
“We are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together. And we are leading by example, showing that trade is about more than tariffs and barriers. It is about values, principles and finding win-win solutions for all those concerned.”
The US was in talks with Japan and other Asian countries 18 months ago about a wide-ranging free-trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, but Donald Trump withdrew from this in one of his first moves after becoming president.
Since then, his “America First” policy has seen tariffs introduced on a range of items, including steel, which both Japan and the EU export to the US.
Firms in the EU, the world’s biggest free-trade zone, currently export more than $100bn (£75bn) in goods and services to Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, every year.
Japan’s Minister for Economic Revitalisation, Toshimitsu Motegi, said:
“At a time when protectionist measures are gaining steam globally, the signing of the Japan-EU deal today will show the world once again our unwavering political will to promote free trade.”
Cover photo: MTI/EPA/AP pool/Szaszahara Kodzsi