Japan, EU sign free trade pact amid worries about Trump

18 July, 2018, 12:22 | Author: Regina Silva

The Japan-EU trade deal is also a sign of shifting global ties as Trump distances the United States from long-time allies like the EU, NATO and Canada.

Juncker said late last month that he would pay a visit to Washington after Trump returned from his trip, which included the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, meetings and golf in the United Kingdom and a highly anticipated sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. She says security, counterterrorism, and energy will be on the agenda, as well as trade.

The EU's top officials will be in Japan for the signing ceremony, including the EU Council's President, Donald Tusk, and the European Commission's head, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The EU will also eliminate about 99 per cent of its tariffs on Japanese goods, including crucially removing levies on Japanese cars from the eighth year after the deal is implemented, and scrapping tariffs on auto parts immediately. Once passed, the AP reports Japan will see lower prices on European wines, cheese, pork, handbags, and pharmaceuticals while the EU will see lower price tags on Japanese machinery parts, tea, and fish.

"There are rising concerns about protectionism, but I want Japan and the European Union to lead the world by bearing the flag of free trade", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference after the signing ceremony.

The EU - the world's biggest single market with 28 countries and 500 million people - is trying to boost alliances in the face of Trump's protectionist administration.

The European Commission announced that Juncker, its president, will visit Washington next week to discuss economic opportunities with Trump.

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"It's a light in the increasing darkness of global politics", Tusk said. "We are predictable, responsible, and will continue defending a world order based on rules, freedom and transparency and common sense".

Overall, European farmers will benefit, Juncker said, though European consumers will be able to more easily buy luscious Kobe beef and famous Yubari melons.

The EU is seeking access to one of the world's richest markets, while Japan hopes to jump-start an economy that has struggled to find solid growth. About 94 percent of the tariffs on European exports to Japan will be lifted, rising to 99 percent in the future.

Japan praised the deal with the European Union as coming from Abe's "Abenomics" policies, created to wrest the economy out of stagnation despite a shrinking population and cautious spending. Although the leaders didn't mention him by name, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Union leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker distanced themselves from Trump's tactics in a press conference following the deal.

Speaking in China on Monday, Mr Tusk said: "It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russian Federation, not to destroy [the global trade order] but to improve it, not to start trade wars which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history".

The signing in Tokyo for the deal, largely reached late past year, is ceremonial.

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