EU and Japan reach free trade deal

The European Union and Japan have formally agreed an outline free-trade deal

6 July 2017, 3:04pm
EU President Donald Tusk (left), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels
EU President Donald Tusk (left), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top EU officials agreed on Thursday to the broad outline of a landmark trade deal, presented as a direct challenge to the protectionism championed by US President Donald Trump.

The agreement paves the way for trading in goods without tariff barriers between two of the world's biggest economic areas and capped four years of talks, coming on the eve of a G20 meeting in Germany, in which Trump is expected to defend his “America First” stance on world trade.

"Today we agreed in principle on an Economic Partnership Agreement (with Japan), the impact of which goes far beyond our shores," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said at a joint press conference with Abe and EU President Donald Tusk in Brussels.

The EU and Japanese economies combined account for more than a quarter of global output, making the deal one of the biggest trade pacts ever.

"We were able to demonstrate a strong political will so that the EU and Japan take the lead on free trade," Abe said just hours before he was due to meet Trump at the G20 in Hamburg.

However, few specific details are known and a full, workable agreement may take some time.

Two of the most important sectors are Japanese cars and, for Europe, EU farming goods into Japan.