Economy

EU, Japan sign major trade deal in ‘message against protectionism’

EU, Japan sign major trade deal in ‘message against protectionism’

Apart from its deal with the EU, Japan is working on other trade agreements, including a far-reaching trans-Pacific deal.

Trump says he is taking a hard line on trade to protect US workers and USA companies, but critics say his approach is upending the rules of multilateral global trade.

European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said trade between Ireland and Japan is worth more than €3bn a year, and will now expand further.

European exporters to Japan will see the vast majority of €1bn of duties they pay annually removed.

The agreement covers 600 million people and nearly a third of the global economy.

The signing was initially planned to take place in Brussels earlier this month, but Abe canceled a trip due to the rain disaster mainly in western Japan.

We are sending a clear message that we stand against protectionism.

The deal eliminates about 99 per cent of the tariffs on Japanese goods to the EU, but remaining at around 94 per cent for European imports into Japan for now and rising to 99 per cent over the years.

The Japan-EU trade deal is also a sign of shifting global ties as Trump distances the United States from long-time allies like the EU, NATO and Canada.

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Once in effect, . the deal will eliminate almost all of the tariffs levied on Japanese goods within the European market, . which means South Korean goods will no longer have the same price competitiveness within the market.

The EU - the world's biggest single market with 28 countries and 500 million people - is trying to boost alliances in the face of Mr Trump's protectionist administration.

The move is in sharp contrast to the stance taken by the Trump administration in the USA, which has introduced steep import tariffs.

Japan's ambassador for global economic affairs, Yoichi Suzuki, said earlier this year that if an EU-Japan deal were in force in the United Kingdom during the Brexit transition phase, it would buy Japan more time to establish a separate trade deal with Britain.

The move is another example of how many governments - from the European Union to Canada to even China - have responded to US President Donald Trump's recent trade protectionism. Japan will get cheaper cheese, such as Parmesan, gouda and cheddar, as well as chocolate and biscuits.

"With the largest bilateral trade deal ever, today we cement Japanese-European friendship". The European bloc is also pursuing deals with Mexico, Australia, and Mercosur, the South American trading bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Japan praised the deal with the European Union as coming from Mr Abe's "Abenomics" policies, created to wrest the economy out of stagnation despite a shrinking population and cautious spending.

They also confirmed that the European Union will provide support for Japan in resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted decades ago by the North, which Abe has viewed as his government's most important agenda, he also said.

Japan is Ireland's third-most important market in Asia, with €94m worth of agri-food produce exported there in 2017.