Japan releases text of trade deal with EU; 5-year review clause

TOKYO, July 19 ― Japan has published the text of the free trade deal with EU when both leaders signed the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Tokyo on July 17.

Brussels had already released key elements of the trade deal one year earlier on the European Commission’s website, while Tokyo refused to disclose until signing the agreement.

Compared with members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Japan apparently has given a better deal to the EU.

For example, the EPA with the EU includes a review clause that provides for periodic review of the agreed tariff concessions after five years.

The review clause mainly targets at Japanese sensitive products such as hard and soft cheeses, pork and beef, as they have either tariff rate quotas or annual tariff reduction steps within transitional periods.

This gives EU food exporters greater access to the Japanese market and will deliver an advantage over competitors from other countries.

Indeed, the TPP has a review clause, but its periodic review of agreed tariff concessions and safeguard mechanisms comes only after seven years.

In addition, the EPA with the EU contains a provision to review the agreement.

Specifically, the agreement can be further developed, if Japan should later conclude a free trade with other countries with better access conditions, Japan and the EU will enter the review process to implement similar facilitations.

The conclusion must be made within six months after a new FTA with other countries comes into force.

Interestingly, there is no such a provision in the TPP.

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