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Brussels urges early signing of Japan trade deal

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Brussels urges early signing of Japan trade deal

Malmstroem - Katainen - Photo EC

(STRASBOURG) - The European Commission urged a swift conclusion of trade deals with Japan Wednesday, presenting the outcome of negotiations on the biggest bilateral trade partnership ever negotiated by the EU.

The presentation of the outcome of negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, as well as trade and investment agreements with Singapore, are the first step towards the signature and conclusion of these agreements.

"The signature of deep and comprehensive trade agreements with them will benefit our exporters, workers and consumers - by for example eliminating duties worth €1 billion per year on EU exports to Japan every year, "said EC Vice-President Jyrki Katainen.

"With Japan and Singapore we are making a strong statement in defence of open and fair trade based on rules," said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, saying the agreements would create major opportunities for European businesses: "The economic partnership with Japan will cover an area with 600 million consumers and a third of global GDP. Its economic potential is clearly unprecedented. Singapore is already a gateway for Europe into South East Asia, and with our new agreements we aim for a strong boost to our trade with the region.: "

The Japan agreement is the biggest bilateral trade partnership ever negotiated by the European Union. The Economic Partnership Agreement will open huge market opportunities for both sides, strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in a range of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development, and include for the first time a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement. It will remove the vast majority of customs duties that cost EU companies exporting to Japan €1 billion a year.

The agreement will also eliminate a number of long-standing regulatory barriers, such as double testing and overlapping bureaucracy. It will open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports, protect over 200 traditional European regional food and drink products in Japan (the so-called Geographical Indications) and increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors, including the ability for European companies to bid for public contracts in many Japanese cities.

The EU and Japan are also in the final stages of negotiation of a Strategic Partnership Agreement. Upon entry into force, it will upgrade the political relations between the two sides by reinforcing political dialogue, affirming shared values and common principles, and enabling closer cooperation to tackle common challenges, bilaterally and in multilateral fora.

The trade and investment agreements with Singapore are the EU's first completed bilateral deals with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Within ASEAN, Singapore is by far the EU's largest partner with a total bilateral trade in goods of €53.3 billion (2017) and in services of €44.4 billion (2016). Over 10,000 EU companies are established in Singapore and use it as a hub to serve the whole Pacific region. With these agreements, the EU has therefore made an important stride towards setting high standards and rules for the important and fast-growing Southeast Asian region. The deals also represent the first building block of a future region-to-region trade and investment agreement between the EU and ASEAN. Singapore is already the number one location for European investment in Asia, with investment between the two growing rapidly in recent years. Bilateral investment stocks reached €256 billion in 2016.

As well as offering huge economic opportunities, the trade agreements also include comprehensive chapters on trade and sustainable development; setting the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection; as well as strengthening joint actions on sustainable development and climate change and fully safeguarding public services.

EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

MEMO: Key elements of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

EU-Singapore agreements webpage

MEMO: Key elements of the EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements

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