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EU. Trade agreement with Japan comes into force

On February 1, 2019, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement entered into force. Businesses and consumers in Europe and Japan can now take advantage of the world's largest open trade zone.
The Economic Partnership Agreement abolishes the vast majority of the 1 billion Euros of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan. As soon as the agreement is fully implemented, Japan will cancel customs duties on 97% of goods imported from the EU. The agreement also eliminates a number of long-standing non-tariff barriers, for example, by approving international standards for cars. It will also break down barriers for the main EU exporters of food and drinks for 127 million Japanese consumers and increase export opportunities in a number of other sectors. The annual trade between the EU and Japan could increase by almost 36 billion euros as soon as the agreement is fully implemented.
Key parts of the Economic Partnership Agreement
With regard to the export of agricultural products from the EU, the agreement, in particular:
• abolish Japan’s duties on many cheeses, such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently make up 29.8%), as well as on wine exports (currently an average of 15%);
• allow the EU to significantly increase beef exports to Japan, while pork trade will be carried out duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade in fresh meat;
• to ensure the protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, the so-called Geographical Indications (GI), and the protection of a number of Japanese GI in the EU.
The agreement also provides for the opening of markets for services, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. Moreover:
• facilitates access of EU companies to the procurement markets in 54 major cities of Japan and removes barriers to procurement in the economically important railway sector at the national level;
• takes into account specific features in the EU, for example, in the automotive sector, with transition periods of up to 7 years before the abolition of customs duties.

The agreement also includes a comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development; includes specific elements to simplify for small and medium businesses; sets very high standards of labor, safety, environmental protection and consumer protection; strengthens the commitment of the EU and Japan in the field of sustainable development and climate change and fully protects public services.
With regard to data protection, on January 23 of this year, the EU and Japan made decisions that allow the free and secure transfer of personal data between two partners. They agreed to recognize each other’s data protection systems as “equivalent”, which would create the largest area of ​​secure data flows in the world.
Today, much of the other agreement - the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan - is also applied on a temporary basis. The agreement, which was signed last July along with the Economic Partnership Agreement, is the first ever bilateral framework agreement between the EU and Japan and strengthens the general partnership, providing a comprehensive framework for expanding political and sectoral cooperation and joint action on issues of common interest, including regional and global challenges. The agreement will enter into force upon ratification by all EU member states.
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