TOKYO: Japan and Britain have reached a broad accord on bilateral trade, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday after holding a video conference with British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss the same day.
The broad agreement was struck just three months after the two economies entered negotiations, with preferential tariff measures applied for trade between Japan and Britain under the economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union set to expire at the end of this year due to Britain’s exit from the single market.
The bilateral deal was made “within the scope of the Japan-EU EPA,” Motegi told a press conference, stressing that Japanese automobile exports to Britain will continue to be promoted and Japanese farmers will remain protected.
In London, Truss said, “This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as our first major post-Brexit trade deal.”
“The UK has just signed a major Free Trade Agreement with Japan. We have taken back control of our trade policy and will continue to thrive as a trading nation outside the EU,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his Twitter feed, at a time when Britain-EU trade talks are hitting a snag.
Under the just-reached deal, which Tokyo and London aim to put into effect on Jan. 1 next year after completing necessary domestic procedures, Japan will apply to British soft-type cheese, such as cream cheese and blue cheese, tariff rates as low as those on similar EU products if Japan’s preferential tariff quota for EU cheese has room. Currently, the tariff rate on EU blue cheese is set at 24.2 pct, against the usual rate of 29.8 pct.
On the other hand, the current 7.5 pct British tariff on Japanese automobiles will be eliminated in February 2026 following reductions in steps, while tariffs on 92 pct of Japanese auto parts will be abolished immediately.
Among other agreements are banning the two countries’ governments from demanding that private firms disclose algorithms for encryption and artificial intelligence, and providing geographic identification protection to local specialties, including Japanese sake, as does the Japan-EU free trade pact.
“As Japan will be able to keep benefits secured under the Japan-EU EPA, Japanese companies can continue their businesses in Britain,” Motegi said.
In a statement, Hiroaki Nakanishi, head of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, expressed hope that the Japan-Britain agreement will help accelerate the London-Brussels negotiations.