Japan, Britain ink post-Brexit free trade deal

Daniel Fowler
October 24, 2020

Britain and the European Union resumed their fraught talks on Thursday after the United Kingdom ended a week of threats to abandon the long-running negotiations.

Japan and the United Kingdom signed a post-Brexit bilateral free trade agreement Friday, paving the way for its implementation January 1 next year to ensure continuity in trade and investment beyond the end of London's transition period out of the European Union.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has welcomed the reopening of talks and told reporters in London that he wanted to make "every day count". "What we have now, after all sorts of politics being played, is a process that is back on track", Simon Coveney said, adding, however, that both sides remained "miles apart" on fishing.

The Japan-U.K. pact, which largely replicates the existing Japan-EU free trade accord, will enter into force after domestic ratification procedures.

"The British acceptance of the new baseline unlocked discussions on the issue and pointed the direction of travel for the later talks", an European Union diplomat said.

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London with negotiators vowing to work around the clock to salvage a trade deal and avert potential economic chaos at the end of the year - although key sticking points still remain. "I would encourage businesses in the East of England to contact our team to see how we can help you explore new exporting opportunities and grow your business in Japan".

The new rules confirm that it will be mandatory for all Heavy Goods Vehicles using the Short Strait channel crossings to obtain a digital Kent Access Permit, and reduce the risk of disruption as hauliers travel through Kent to reach the Short Straits - one of Britain's busiest trade routes.

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"I think a deal can be done, I've said that for quite some time".

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and UK Trade Minister Liz Truss sign agreement in Tokyo, which is touted to boost trade between the two countries by $19.5 billion.

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Financial services make up Britain's biggest export to Japan, now standing at 28 percent.

The deal, unveiled last month, means almost all its exports to Japan will be tariff free while removing British tariffs on Japanese cars by 2026.

Critics pointed out that the trade deal with Japan will increase U.K. GDP by only 0.07%.

Motegi visited Britain in August, his first overseas trip amid the coronavirus pandemic, and stressed the importance of reaching a trade deal quickly.

These terms are the same as those contained in the EU-Japan trade agreement.

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