EU-Japan Alliance: Joining Forces to Counter US and Chinese Initiatives

Written by | Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

The EU and Japan signed last Friday (27 September) a holistic partnership to promote investment projects based on rules-based and sustainable principles that is specifically aimed at countering the risks posed by the latest policies of the US and China. The EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure was presented to other Asian partners during the EU-Asia Connectivity Forum that was launched by the European Commission in Brussels. Covering an array of trade, economic, transport, infrastructure and environmental fields, this new partnership is the first of its kind, highlighting connectivity as a key priority in the EU’s aspiration to be seen more as a global actor.
Europa Connectivity Forum is an innovative multi-stakeholder international conference aimed at fostering dialogue and strengthening ties between governments, financial institutions, and private sector actors in Europe and beyond. Building on the already close cooperation between the EU and its Asia-Pacific partners, this first edition of the Forum was held under the theme ‘EU-Asia Connectivity: Building Bridges for a Sustainable Future’. The EU-Japan partnership agreement thus fits into this context and confirms Europe’s ambition to work together with like-minded partners in promoting connectivity that is sustainable across the board – fiscally, economically, socially and environmentally.
At the invitation of European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Japan Shinz? Abe took part as the Forum’s special guest and delivered a keynote speech at the opening plenary. According to the text of the partnership agreement, Brussels and Tokyo agreed to “promote free, open, rules-based, fair, non-discriminatory and predictable regional and international trade and investment, transparent procurement practices, the ensuring of debt sustainability and the high standards of economic, fiscal, financial, social and environmental sustainability.”
The landmark EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement and economic partnership agreement, signed last year, and the long-awaited commercial trade deal signed on 17 July are widely seen as emphatic statements meant to counter US President Donald Trump’s attacks against free trade and the rules-based international order. Meanwhile, the EU has been struggling to achieve a more balanced economic relationship with China, pushing it to open up its huge market and protect European firms’ intellectual property. This latest agreement with Japan takes a step further in the EU’s efforts to build a global alliance to counter President Trump’s protectionism and unilateralism, while also offering an alternative to China’s controversial ‘Belt and Road’ investment scheme throughout Eurasia and beyond.

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