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December 11, 2017
EU-Japan free trade negotiations conclude successfully
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced on December 8 the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
When the agreement comes into force, Japan will liberalize 91% of its imports from the European Union (EU). At the end of the staging period 99% of its imports from the EU will be liberalized, while the remaining imports (1%) will be partly liberalized through quotas and tariff reductions (in agriculture). In terms of lines, Japan fully liberalizes 86% of its tariff lines at entry into force (EIF), going up to 97% after 15 years.
The overall level of liberalization of the EU is set at 99% with 96% of its lines eliminated at EIF. In terms of imports the EU liberalizes only 75% at EIF, but rising over 15 years to close to 100%. Tariff lines on automobiles will be fully liberalized in 7 years, car parts varying from EIF to 7 years.
The only full exclusions are the mutual exclusion for rice and seaweeds.
The disparity in terms of levels of liberalization on both sides is justified by the commitments undertaken under this agreement by Japan to eliminate non-tariff barriers to EU exports, notably virtually total alignment on international standards in the automobile sector.
The agreement also opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. The deal also includes a comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development; sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection; strengthens EU and Japan's actions on sustainable development and climate change and fully safeguards public services.
The EU and Japan will now start the legal verification of the text, also known as "legal scrubbing". Once this is completed, the English text of the agreement will be translated into the other 23 official languages of the EU, as well as into Japanese.
The European Commission will then submit the agreement for the approval of the European Parliament and EU Member States, aiming for its entry into force before the end of the current mandate of the Commission in 2019.
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