Japan and Britain sign free trade agreement with aim to make it enter into force in January

TOKYO, Oct. 24 – Japan and Britain signed an economic partnership agreement on Oct. 23, with an aim to implement it on Jan. 1 next year following approval of the two nations’ parliaments.

The bilateral agreement largely replicates the existing economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union regarding tariff cuts and reductions for farm produce, but no new import quotas will be set for Britain.

British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who was visiting Tokyo, attended a signing ceremony along with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

“We want to make this agreement a foundation to further strengthen and develop the Japan-Britain relationship,” Motegi said at a joint news conference following the ceremony.

Truss said the agreement paves the way for Britain’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework.

After the new deal takes effect, both Japan and Britain will apply the same level of tariffs as the Japan-EU EPA on agricultural products.

A new quota will not be set for Britain for the 25 items that are subject to reduced tariffs under the Japan-EU EPA. But for 10 out of the 25 items, including soft cheeses such as blue cheese and food preparations containing cocoa or wheat, Britain will be able to use any quota left over by the European Union.

As for items subject to safeguard measures under the Japan-EU EPA, such as beef and pork, such measures will be applied against Britain only when the total amount of imports from the European Union and Britain exceeds the trigger level.

Rice was exempted from tariff cuts and reductions in the Japan-Britain deal just as in the Japan-EU EPA.

In a meeting held prior to the signing ceremony, Motegi and Truss agreed to cooperate so that the deal will enter into force as scheduled. The Japanese government plans to submit a bill to ratify the agreement to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Oct. 26.

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