EU, Japan sign landmark trade deal to eliminate almost all tariffs

EU rejects protectionism in huge trade deal with Japan

The "landmark" EU-Japan deal creates a massive economic zone and stands in stark contrast to US President Donald Trump's "America First" protectionism.

Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker added: 'Together we are making - by signing this agreement - a statement about free and fair trade, we are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together.

Brussels and Tokyo's agreement will eliminate almost all tariffs, attempting to allay fears set off by the US President's protectionist crackdown on global trade.

Both sides are heralding the deal, which covers a third of the global economy and more than 600 million people.

"Political uncertainty, tariffs, aggressive rhetoric, unpredictability, irresponsibility, they are the real risks for our businesses, not trade deals", he said.

"This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based global order, at a time when some are questioning this order", Tusk said.

The EU-Japan deal will send a "strong signal to the world" against United States protectionism, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said recently.

The pact - which both Japan and the European Union aim to have come into force by early next year - will abolish or reduce tariffs on industrial products and agricultural items between the two sides and sets rules on investment, which is expected to help enhance opportunities for further two-way trade and investment. "Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news".

The EU and Japan aim to have the agreement come into force before the United Kingdom leaves the EU next March.

Both sides also signed a strategic partnership agreement, a framework aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation on a broad range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including security, cybercrime and climate change.

Trump says he is taking a hard line on trade to protect US workers and USA companies, but critics say his approach is upending the rules of multilateral global trade. The EPA has raised Japan-EU relations to a new height, he said.

The prime minister expressed the readiness of Japan and the European Union toward an early implementation of the pact and also welcomed the launch of a ministerial-level industrial, trade and economic dialogue, with the initial round of talks expected to take place by the end of the year. Japanese will get cheaper cheeses, such as Parmesan, gouda and cheddar, as well as chocolate and biscuits.

However, Japan's dairy industry is expected to lose market share to European products once tariffs of up to 40 percent on some cheese imports start falling. It will eliminate tariffs on Japan's mainstay products of automobiles in the eighth year and TVs in the sixth year following the pact's implementation.

Trump also stirred controversy during his transatlantic trip last week by fiercely criticizing British Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of her country's exit from the European Union, complaining that she did not listen to his advice.

But both parties have decided not to include a controversial scheme to settle investment disputes and will continue negotiations over the matter.

Abe had been scheduled to sign the deal in Brussels last week, but cancelled his trip after devastating floods that killed more than 220 people.

"It's a light in the increasing darkness of global politics", Tusk said.

Besides the latest deal with the EU, Japan is working on other trade agreements, including a far-reaching trans-Pacific deal.

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