Japan Diet approves FTA with EU; take effect in February 2019

TOKYO, Dec. 9 ― Japan’s upper house approved the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by a majority vote at a plenary session on Dec. 8, leaving farmers to greet the mega free trade agreement with a sense of dread.

With the European Parliament and the EU council being set to ratify the deal by year-end, the deal will come into force on Feb. 1, 2019.

The lower house gave its approval in late November. Legislative debates both at the lower and the upper houses totaled only nine hours.

The deal will give EU food exporters greater access to the Japanese market, with products such as cheese and pork, and deliver an advantage over competitors from other countries.

And the Japan-EU EPA will follow the entry into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., known as TPP-11, which took effect on Dec. 30, 2018.

Furthermore, Japan and the U.S. are expected to kick off negotiations for a trade agreement on goods (TAG) as early as January 2019, and the U.S. President Donald Trump recently expressed a willingness to get “a substantially better TPP” deal, especially market access for agricultural products.

Japanese farmers head into 2019, with the sense that things are changing.

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