The UK and Japanese governments have started negotiating a UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement.
The new agreement will be based on the existing EU-Japan deal. It will bring additional benefits in areas such as digital trade, and provide support for the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses.
The trade between the UK and Japan was worth over £30 billion last year, and around 9,500 UK based businesses exported goods to Japan. A free trade agreement with Japan will bring new opportunities throughout the economy, create jobs, and will diversify choice for consumers.
The deal is due to be set in place by the end of 2020. In the same time, the UK and Japan are also committed to lead the global response to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19.
On the UK side, talks will be led at official level by Graham Zebedee, with all UK trade negotiations being overseen by Crawford Falconer, DIT’s Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser.
According to the Government's analysis, UK Japan FTA will benefit every region and nation of the UK, with the greatest benefits in Scotland, London and the East Midlands.
Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary declared: "Today marks a historic moment in the long-standing friendship between the UK and Japan. As we kick start trade talks, we aim to strike a comprehensive free trade agreement that goes further than the deal previously agreed with the EU, setting ambitious standards in areas such as digital trade and services. A trade deal with Japan will also advance the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will improve market access for UK businesses across the Asia-Pacific region. This deal will provide more opportunities for businesses and individuals across every region and nation of the UK and help boost our economies following the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus."
Takaaki Hanaoka, Secretary-General of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the UK stated: "We, Japanese Chamber of Commerce＆ Industry in the UK welcome the movement of starting negotiation of Free Trade agreement by both UK and Japanese governments. The UK and Japan have common ground in that both have mature markets and societies. Both can be partners in further developing economic activities through mutual trade and investment. We urge strongly that a legally binding FTA between UK and Japan be agreed at the earliest opportunity."
Negotiations will be online, via videoconference, across six working groups and will cover all 23 chapters and annexes of the future agreement. Around 100 negotiators will be involved on the UK side. A common-sense approach to negotiations will ensure that talks can progress during the COVID-19 pandemic, while public health and social distancing measures can continue to be respected.
CBI Deputy Director-General, Josh Hardie, declared: "The launch of the UK-Japan talks is a big step forward to creating an ambitious free trade agreement. Japan offers huge opportunities for two-way trade and investment, one that will benefit every region and nation across the country. Business is optimistic that a deal focused on supporting digital trade and industries of the future can be reached."
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