The EU and Japan announced on Friday they have concluded negotiations for a giant free trade deal while “fighting the temptation of protectionism,” in an apparent message to US President Donald Trump.
The trade deal, which the European Union called its biggest ever, must still be signed and ratified by both sides who first agreed to its broad outlines in July.
Once completed it will forge an economic zone of 600 million people with 30 percent of global GDP.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the imminent birth of what he called a “gigantic economic zone” when he confirmed the conclusion of the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement.
“Japan and the EU will join hands and build an economic zone based on free and fair rules,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo.
Abe and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker earlier said the agreement, which had been four years in the making, has “strategic importance” beyond its economic value.
“It sends a clear signal to the world that the EU and Japan are committed to keeping the world economy working on the basis of free, open and fair markets with clear and transparent rules fully respecting and enhancing our values, fighting the temptation of protectionism,” the pair said in a statement released in Brussels.
With the deal, 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 for more than a decade.
Japan is also hoping to seize an opportunity after the failure of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, torpedoed in January by Trump.
Under the deal, the EU will open its market to the world-leading Japanese auto industry, with Tokyo in return scrapping barriers to EU farming products, especially dairy.—APP