EU-Japan free trade agreement defies protectionism

The European Union and Japan have signed a trade deal that promises to eliminate 99 percent of tariffs that cost businesses in the EU and Japan nearly one billion euro annually.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the deal “shows the world the unshaken political will of Japan and the EU to lead the world as the champions of free trade at a time when protectionism has spread.”

According to the European Commission, the EU-Japan “Economic Partnership Agreement” (EPA) is the largest trade deal ever negotiated by the EU and will create a trade zone covering 600 million people and nearly a third of global GDP.

Abe met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk in Tokyo on Tuesday to sign the EPA at the 25th EU-Japan Summit. The agreement was supposed to have been signed during an EU-Japan summit in Brussels last Wednesday, but the meeting was canceled by Abe due to the recent flooding disaster in Japan.

The result of four years of negotiation, the EPA was finalized in late 2017 and is expected to come into force by the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in autumn 2019. The EU has called the agreement “highly ambitious and comprehensive.” The total trade volume of goods and services between the EU and Japan is €86 billion.

To continue reading, please visit

(Photo: EU audiovisual service)