December 8, 2017
EU finalises 'biggest' trade deal ever, with Japan
The EU and Japan on Friday, Dec. 8, successfully concluded the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), described as "the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever negotiated by the European Union".
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, "This is the EU at its best, delivering both on form and on substance. The EU and Japan send a powerful message in defence of open, fair and rules-based trade".
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan also said: "This agreement represents the most significant and far reaching deal ever concluded by the EU in agri-food trade. It will provide huge growth opportunities for our agri-food exporters in a very large, mature and sophisticated market".
The EPA will accordingly remove the majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, as well as several long-standing regulatory barriers. 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.
With regards to agricultural exports from the EU, the agreement will, in particular:
-- scrap duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently are at 29.8%);
-- allow the EU to increase its beef exports to Japan substantially, while on pork there will be duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat; and
-- ensure the protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, so called Geographical Indications (GIs), and will also ensure the protection of a selection of Japanese GIs in the EU.
The agreement is subject to approval by the European Parliament and EU member states, and is expected to be in force before 2019. —Rick Alberto