Japan gets cheaper cheese as it signs EU’s ‘biggest’ trade deal

Trump Juncker

Abe, an early visitor to Trump's Mar a Lago resort after his election, did not address the Helsinki summit directly but told reporters that the trade agreement with Brussels "shows the world the unshaken political will of Japan and the European Union to lead the world as the champions of free trade at a time when protectionism has spread".

"This agreement will create an open trade zone covering almost a third of the world's GDP", he said.

Once ratified by parliaments on both sides, the EU-Japan trade deal will eliminate about 99% of tariffs on Japanese goods, including on cars, from the eighth year after the deal is implemented, with tariffs scrapped on vehicle parts immediately.

Both sides are heralding the deal, which covers a third of the global economy and more than 600 million people.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker inked the agreement, together with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a ceremony in Tokyo.

"It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russian Federation, not to destroy (the global trade order) but to improve it, not to start trade wars which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history", Tusk said in Beijing.

Japan's ambassador for worldwide economic affairs, Yoichi Suzuki, has previously said it was 'a very high priority that [the deal] enter force before the end of March 2019, ' referring to the date when Britain is set to leave the EU.

The European Union yesterday called on the United States, China and Russian Federation to work together to cool worsening global trade tension, warning that they could spiral into violent "conflict and chaos".

It also provides a stark counterpoint to US President Donald Trump's aggressive "America First" protectionism, which has seen Washington impose trade tariffs on allies and rivals alike.

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The EU-Japan deal will send a "strong signal to the world" against U.S. protectionism, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said recently.

After the turmoil of Trump in Brussels, EU leaders are in China and Japan today and tomorrow for two important summits, a sign that Europe is looking to Asia, writes Fraser Cameron. Both the European Union and Japan have been hit with new United States tariffs despite their longstanding alliances with Washington.

The foreign ministry said that by strengthening ties with the EU, Japan hopes to vitalise mutual direct investment, fight other global trends toward protectionism and enhance the stature of Japanese brands. The difference reflects exceptions on such products as rice, which enjoys strong political protection from imports in Japan.

The EU said the trade liberalization will help raise European exports of chemicals, clothing, cosmetics and beer to Japan.

The major step toward liberalizing trade has been discussed since 2013.

Europe's food sector is one of the biggest winners from the deal, which should allow it to capitalize on Japanese demand for high-quality cheese, chocolates, meats and pasta. The partnership includes Australia, Mexico, Vietnam and other nations, although the United States has withdrawn.

Japanese consumers have historically coveted European products, and a drop in prices is likely to boost spending.

"Furthermore, the European Union and Japan will continue their negotiations on investment rules".

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