Japan, European Union sign free trade deal affecting seafood

Published on
July 17, 2018

Nearly all tariffs affecting trade between Japan and the European Union will be eliminated following their signing of a landmark free trade deal on Tuesday, 17 July.

The deal, signed in Tokyo, Japan, eliminates about 99 percent of the tariffs on Japanese goods sold to the E.U., and about 94 percent of the tariffs on European exports to Japan, according to the E.U.-Japan summit joint statement.

According to the European Commission, the agreement is the largest trade deal ever negotiated by the E.U. It will create a trade zone covering 600 million people and nearly one-third of global GDP.

"The Economic Partnership Agreement demonstrates to the world the firm political will of the EU and Japan to keep the flag of free trade waving high and powerfully advance free trade,” the joint statement said. “The agreement will also deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth and spur job creation."

The deal will mean cheaper seafood in both the E.U. and in Japan, according to Quartz. Processed foods produced in Europe will see an especially lucrative opening in Japan, according to the E.C., which estimated the deal would boost E.U. exports to Japan by 180 percent for processed foods.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk represented the E.U. at the summit, while Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe represented Japan. At the signing, Tusk said the deal represented a stand against protectionism espoused by the United States under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

“We are putting in place the largest bilateral trade deal ever.This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based international order, at a time when some are questioning this order,” Tusk said. “We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism."

Japan will now turn its sights toward finalizing other trade agreements, according to the Associated Press. Next up is likely a trans-Pacific agreement that includes Australia, Mexico, Vietnam and other nations – a proposed deal from which the U.S. withdrew its participation in 2017.

Photo courtesy of the European Commission

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