Europe, Japan sign free trade deal

Lloyd Doyle
July 17, 2018

More than 200 people died from flooding and landslides.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, hailed the agreement as the "largest bilateral trade deal ever".

"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 Monday in Beijing.

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".

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".

The European Union's largest ever trade deal has been signed with Japan.

The Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement will eliminate almost all tariffs between the bloc and the world's third biggest economy.

Japan's Minister for Economic Revitalisation, Toshimitsu Motegi, said on Tuesday: "At a time when protectionist measures are gaining steam globally, the signing of the Japan-EU deal today will show the world once again our unwavering political will to promote free trade".

The EU officials and Japan will also look to present a united front against USA tariffs on steel and aluminium, which Japan has called "deplorable". Japanese machinery parts, tea and fish will become cheaper in Europe.

EU products now face an average tariff of 1.6% when they arrive in Japan, while Japanese products face tariffs of 2.9% in the European Union, according to the World Trade Organization.

The difference is due to exceptions such as rice, a product which is culturally and politically sensitive and has been protected for decades in Japan.

The major step toward liberalizing trade has been discussed since 2013. That follows an earlier move by Washington to impose 25 per cent tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing has responded by imposing identical penalties on a similar amount of American imports.

The agreement must still be ratified by the European Union parliament, as well as Japanese lawmakers, but is expected to enter into force from 2019.

Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and 10 other states on his first day in office in January 2017 and has pushed to renegotiate a free trade pact with Canada and Mexico. Japan's growth continues to be heavily dependent on exports. He said the partnership is being strengthened in various other areas, including defence, climate change and human exchange, and is "sending a clear message" against protectionism. "The EU and Japan remain open for cooperation", European Council President Donald Tusk, who speaks for the 28 EU national leaders, told reporters. Japan will get cheaper cheese, such as Parmesan, gouda and cheddar, as well as chocolate and biscuits.

The imported wine and cheese could hurt sales by Japanese wineries and dairies, but Japanese consumers have historically coveted such European products.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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