EU and Japanese leaders sign landmark free trade and cooperation agreements.

Brussels

Whilst the UK is hoping that Brexit will free it to negotiate new trade deals and relationships across the World, the EU continues to progress with relationships that further trading and cooperation for the bloc.

Witness the Free Trade deal signed in Tokyo last week (17 July 2018).  It removes nearly all tariffs paid by EU companies exporting to Japan and sends a clear message against global protectionism.

Japanese Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) and EU leaders (Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker) also signed an EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement to boost cooperation between both sides on issues such as security and defence, energy and climate and people-to-people exchanges.

"We are putting in place the largest bilateral trade deal ever," said EU Council president Donald Tusk: "This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based international order, at a time when some are questioning this order."

The EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) is the largest trade deal ever negotiated by the EU.  It will create a trade zone covering 600 million people and nearly a third of global GDP.

Once fully implemented, the free trade agreement will eliminate several regulatory barriers and remove most of the duties that EU companies pay annually to export to Japan.

Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to fight protectionism and to defend the rules-based international trading system. They committed to modernise the World Trade Organisation in line with the conclusions of the Charlevoix G7 Summit.

An EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement was also signed at the summit.  This agreement takes the EU's long-standing partnership with Japan to a new level, with 'deeper and more strategic cooperation'.

There was reaffirmation of a strong commitment to implement the Paris agreement on climate change by focussing on emission reduction and improving energy efficiency.

The conclusion of talks on an adequate level of data protection by the EU and Japan will create the world's largest area of safe data transfers with a high level of data protection.

Finally, EU and Japanese leaders discussed a range of regional and international issues, including: the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula; support for the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA); and Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.