EU Parliament Ratifies Free Trade Deal with Japan, ‘World’s Largest’

EU Parliament Ratifies Free Trade Deal with Japan, ‘World’s Largest’

The EU – Japan Free Trade Agreement covers nearly a third of the global economy.

The European Parliament has approved the EU – Japan free trade deal – dubbed the largest in the world – which is expected to enter into effect in February 2019.

The agreement was approved with 474 votes in favor and 152 against, with 40 abstentions. It had already been ratified by Japan’s Parliament.

The EU – Japan free trade deal is still to be approved by the individual EU member states. However, the European Commission expects the ratification to go swiftly, and the agreement with Japan to come into force in February.

The EU – Japan Economic Partnership was signed in July. It covers 635 million people and nearly a third of the global economy.

It will do away with customs duties on almost all agriculture and industrial products, open up the services sector and public procurement procedures, and will also provide for eliminating non-tariff trade barriers.

It also stipulates common standards on labor, safety, environment, consumer protection. It is also the first free trade deal to provide for commitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The EU exports EUR 58 billion worth in goods and EUR 29 billion worth in services to Japan every year.

“Today’s approval is a key milestone for fair trade based on rules and values, amid rising protectionism. The agreement will help promote high standards and strengthen sustainable development in trade policy. The European Parliament is sending a very progressive message and will continue to do its part, so that the biggest EU bilateral trade agreement truly works for both citizens and businesses,” said Pedro Silva Pereira, the rapporteur in charge of the trade agreement.

“Almost five centuries after Europeans established the first trade ties with Japan, the entry into force of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will bring our trade, political and strategic relationship to a whole new level,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

“Our economic partnership with Japan – the biggest trade zone ever negotiated – is now very close to becoming a reality. This will bring clear benefits to our companies, farmers, service providers and others,” said in turn Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade.

Earlier in 2018, the EU concluded free trade talks with Mexico, while CETA, the EU – Canada free trade agreement entered into force in September 2017.

On behalf of the EU, the European Commission recently started free trade negotiations with Australia and with New Zealand.

(Banner image: European Parliament)

Ivan Dikov is a Bulgarian journalist and author. He studied political science / international relations and history at Dartmouth College and later in Sofia, in the Eastern Balkans. He’s served for five years as the editor-in-chief of Bulgaria’s largest English-language media – As a freelancer, he has collaborated with media from the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.

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