The European Union and Japan have signed two landmark agreements at the 25th EU-Japan summit with the aim to intensify their mutual cooperation. The deals cover free trade and strategic partnership. Both sides have committed to remove 99% of tariffs paid by European companies exporting to Japan, thus sending a clear message that the EU and Japan are united against trade protectionism emerging from the United States. The second deal covers cooperation on security and defense, energy and climate as well as people-to-people exchanges.
On this historical occasion, European Council President Donald Tusk commented that “we are putting in place the largest bilateral trade deal ever. This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based international order, at a time when some are questioning this order. We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism.” EU and Japanese leaders thus hammered out the largest trade agreement ever negotiated by Brussels, creating a trade zone covering 600 million people and almost a third of the world’s gross domestic product.
On top of the almost 100% elimination of tariffs, the agreement will also get rid of several regulatory barriers. Both sides demonstrated the willingness and the “firm political will to keep the flag of free trade waving,” as Mr. Tusk stressed, adding that the partners also want to work on the modernization of the World Trade Organization in line with the conclusions of the Charlevoix G7 Summit.
Brussels and Japan are also seeking to move their mutual partnership to the next level with a deeper and more strategic cooperation on a wide range of topics including peace and security, migration, the fight against terrorism, energy, climate change, education, research and innovation, and development. Regarding foreign policy, both sides are committed to the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the support for the Iranian nuclear deal and for the Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.