The European Union and Japan have welcomed the coming into force of the bilateral trade agreement between the two economies, saying it was a model for ‘free open rules based trade and investment’ in the 21st century.
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed on February 1, 2019, covers a total population of more than 600 million people worldwide.
The leaders of the partnership, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, gathered in Brussels on Thursday for the 26th Summit between the EU and Japan.
“We reaffirm the commitment to expanding market access for European and Japanese products, including through adhering to international,” the leaders said in a joint statement released after the meeting. “At the same time we recall the importance of promoting the development of international trade in a way that contributes to sustainable development, mindful of the needs of high levels of environmental and labour protection,” they added.
This commercial pact, considered to be one of the most ambitious in the world, includes the elimination of a large part of the customs tariffs that were previously paid by European and Japanese companies. It also foresees the establishment of a trade zone that brings together 39.9 percent of global transactions and a third of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
While the most sensitive sectors, such as rice production, are protected, other products such as wine, cheese, pork, pasta, chocolate and biscuits will be zero-rated “either immediately or after a transition period”.