EU and Japan agree 'in principle' to major trade deal

The Government says the agreement will bring "great benefits to Ireland" when it comes into force

EU and Japan agree 'in principle' to major trade deal

European Council President Donald Tusk (C), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Picture by: Gong Bing/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A 'landmark' trade deal between the European Union and Japan has been agreed in principle.

The 'Economic Partnership Agreement' should remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies who do business with Japan.

It will also set standards for labour, safety and consumer protection.

The agreement also makes specific reference to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and notes: "The EU and Japan commit not to lower domestic labour and environmental laws to attract trade and investment."

The EU says it is hoped the agreement will come into force in early 2019.

The deal is said to recognise the "special status" of European agricultural products - including Irish whiskey - while the export process for motor vehicles will be "significantly simplified".

Phil Hogan, the EU's Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, observed: "This is a win-win for both partners, but a big win for rural Europe.

"The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is the most significant and far-reaching agreement ever concluded in agriculture."

Ireland's goods trade with Japan is valued at more than €4bn a year, with a similar value for the services trade.

The Government here welcomed the new agreement, saying it will bring 'great benefits to Ireland'.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says she will lead a trade and investment mission to Japan later this year.

She argued: “Together with the EU- Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, today sends a powerful signal that international cooperation is the way to tackle global challenges and an important stand against protectionism." 

Fianna Fáil's Niall Collins, meanwhile, described the deal as an "additional defence against the harmful effects of Brexit" by providing easier access to a major world market.