On 1 February 2019 a milestone in EU-Japanese relations came into force. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the two players became effective and in doing so created what is now the world’s biggest free trade zone, covering nearly one-third of the world’s economy and 635 million people.
The EPA removes the majority of the €1 billion of duties that are paid every year by EU companies exporting to Japan. Once fully implemented, 97% of goods imported to Japan from the European Union will have their tariffs scrapped. The agreement will also take away some long-standing non-tariff barriers, for example giving endorsement to international standards on automobiles. The EPA also breaks down barriers for EU food and beverage exporters to Japan’s 127 million consumers and increases export opportunities in other sectors. It has been estimated that, once the agreement has been implemented in full, annual trade between Japan and the EU could see an increase of almost €36 billion.
The Japanese government has said that the EPA will give a real boost to the country’s economy, expanding trade and investment, giving a boost to Japan’s GDP of about 1% and creating 290,000 new jobs. Click here to read more.