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Auto tariffs to be key topic of Japan-Britain trade talks

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "has been clear that he would like to do a deal" with Britain, an official of the British prime minister's office told media organizations (AFP)
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28 Jan 2020 05:01:16 GMT9
28 Jan 2020 05:01:16 GMT9

LONDON: Auto tariffs are likely to come up as a top agenda item in Japan-Britain trade talks expected to start as early as this spring following Britain's exit from the European Union.

Tokyo and London are hoping to put their envisaged trade deal into force in January 2021 after an agreement, signing and approval by parliament by the end of this year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "has been clear that he would like to do a deal" with Britain, an official of the British prime minister's office told media organizations, including Jiji Press, early this month. "The feeling is shared," the official added.

After its withdrawal from the EU, Britain will enter a transition period through the end of this year to alleviate the impact of Brexit on its economy and society.

The economic partnership agreement between Japan and the EU, which came into effect in February last year, will be maintained for a while. But Japan and Britain need to have a new trade deal after the transition period is over.

Although the schedule is tight, the Japanese and British governments hope to hammer out a more ambitious trade agreement than the Japan-EU EPA.

The British government plans to hold post-Brexit trade talks preferentially with the EU, Japan, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

In the absence of major pending issues between Tokyo and London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson "wants to strike Britain's first post-Brexit trade deal with Japan," according to The Sun, a British tabloid.

Johnson apparently aims to use a trade deal with Japan as a springboard for negotiations with the EU.

In talks with London, Tokyo is expected to request automotive tariffs to be scrapped immediately. Under the Japan-EU EPA, auto tariffs are set to be eliminated in the eighth year after its effectuation.

Britain, for its part, wants protection for its auto industry, which creates some 820,000 domestic jobs and produces the biggest export product for the country.

Japanese automakers will likely hold the key to Japan-Britain trade negotiations at a time when Nissan Motor Co. <7201>, Toyota Motor Corp. <7203> and Honda Motor Co. <7267> together account for about a half of auto production in Britain.

Other major topics of discussions between Japan and Britain are expected to include rules to resolve investment disputes.

The Japan-EU EPA does not include a Tokyo-proposed investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, mechanism to allow companies to sue the governments of foreign countries if they are treated unfairly there, due to opposition from the EU side.

Britain, however, may accept the introduction of the mechanism, which is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade agreement, as the European nation is eager to join the TPP.

JIJI Press

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