EU and Ja­pan fi­nally reach agree­ment on trade deal

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The Euro­pean Union and Ja­pan reached broad po­lit­i­cal agree­ment on a his­toric free trade deal yes­ter­day cap­ping four years of ne­go­ti­a­tions, EU Trade Com­mis­sioner Ce­cilia Malm­stroem said. The hard-won deal marks a big win for free trade two days be­fore a G20 sum­mit in Ger­many in which US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ex­pected to de­fend his “Amer­ica First” pro­tec­tion­ist stance. “We’ve reached po­lit­i­cal agree­ment at min­is­te­rial level on an EU-Ja­pan trade deal,” Malm­stroem said in a tweet, af­ter talks in Brus­sels with Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida.

The two sides “ironed out the few re­main­ing dif­fer­ences” and will now “rec­om­mend to lead­ers to con­firm this at sum­mit” to­day, Malm­stroem added. Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe is set to of­fi­cially rub­ber­stamp the out­line of the trade deal at a meet­ing on Thurs­day with EU Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk and EU Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

The EU and Ja­panese economies com­bined ac­count for a colos­sal 28 per­cent of global out­put mak­ing the deal one of the big­gest trade pacts ever at­tempted. The “po­lit­i­cal agree­ment” on the trade deal cov­ers some of the ac­cord’s tough­est as­pects but leaves aside de­tails that could still prove dif­fi­cult.

At the heart of the ac­cord is an agree­ment for the EU to open its mar­ket to the world-lead­ing Ja­panese auto in­dus­try, with Tokyo in re­turn scrap­ping bar­ri­ers to EU farm­ing prod­ucts, es­pe­cially dairy. Left un­touched for now are the con­tro­ver­sial in­vest­ment courts that have stoked op­po­si­tion to trade deals in the EU na­tions, in­clud­ing Ger­many and France.

The deal could be seen as a provo­ca­tion to Trump who pulled the United States out of the 12-na­tion Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship this year, in fa­vor of strik­ing coun­try-to-coun­try bi­lat­eral deals, in­clud­ing with Ja­pan. The EU’s Malm­stroem and Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan vis­ited Tokyo last week to un­block the talks, with tar­iffs on Euro­pean cheese a key stick­ing point. Brus­sels wants Ja­pan to elim­i­nate its 30 per­cent tar­iffs on some EU-made cheese, while Tokyo wants du­ties cut on cars which it ex­ports to the 28-mem­ber bloc. — AFP

BRUS­SELS: EU Com­mis­sioner of Trade Ce­cilia Malm­strom (R) wel­comes Ja­pan For­eign min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida (L) be­fore their meet­ing at the EU Head­quar­ters. — AFP

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