European Union and Japan Agree Biggest Trade Deal in History

European Union and Japan Agree Biggest Trade Deal in History

European Union and Japan Agree Biggest Trade Deal in History

Based on his "America First" policy, Trump has shown an increasingly protectionist stance on the trade front by taking such measures as threatening to impose further tariffs on not just steel and aluminium but also automobiles.

EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker landed in Japan late Monday after talks in Beijing, where they urged global trade cooperation and warned against trade wars.

"We are sending a message to other countries about the importance of free and fair trade, and of shaping globalization", EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said after the agreement was finalized in 2017.

Without mentioning US President Donald Trump, who alleged the European Union has "really taken advantage of us on trade", Tusk stressed the agreement was intended as a counterpoint to Washington's current trade policy.

"The free trade agreement will infuse a new dynamic for business relations on both sides", said Marcus Schürmann, director of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan (AHK Japan).

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Mr Junichi Sugawara, a senior research officer at Mizuho Research Institute, said Mr Trump's protectionism had "prompted Japan and the European Union to speed up negotiations on the deal".

Spurred by a desire to weather USA protectionism, the European Union and Japan have overcome previous hurdles to a trade agreement - such as Japan's long-resistant agricultural sector and Tokyo's participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism", European Council President Donald Tusk said after signing of the deal.

Tusk also ensured the EU's and Japan's joint support of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which Trump pulled out from earlier this year.

The signing in Tokyo for the deal, largely reached late past year, is ceremonial.

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The move will create an open trade zone covering almost a third of the world's GDP and 600 million people.

The Economic Partnership Agreement will remove a wide range of duties and regulatory obstacles between the EU and Japan, helping Japanese auto exports and making it easier for European farmers to sell their produce in the Asian nation. The EU and Japan account for about one-third of GDP worldwide.

The United States this month imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in response to China's persistent trade violations that include hundreds of billions of dollars per year of intellectual property theft from USA companies.

Both sides also reached an agreement to protect personal data and facilitate its cross-border transport between companies in a move expected to promote marketing activities, according to the leaders. Eventually, Japan will bring the amount of lifted tariffs on European goods to cover 99 percent of all traded goods as well.

Japan will scrap nearly all its tariffs on European Union goods, particularly dairy items like cheese, though the country's rice industry will remain protected. Pedro Silva Pereira MEP, S&D Group rapporteur for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement said: "Today's signature is an important step forward".

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