International trade secretary thrilled to seal Japan trade deal

Published by Scott Challinor on September 12th 2020, 6:05am

International trade secretary Liz Truss hailed it a “historic moment” as the UK secured its first major post-Brexit trade deal, coming to an agreement with Japan that will look to boost trade between both nations by around £15 billion.

Truss said that the British manufacturing, food and drink and tech sectors were in line to benefit from “big wins” in the wake of the deal, which is estimated to boost UK GDP by 0.07 per cent and keep 99 per cent of UK exports to Japan free of tariffs.

She said: "The agreement we have negotiated - in record time and in challenging circumstances - goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries.

"From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the north of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country."

Truss also hinted that the deals was of strategic importance in helping the UK grow closer to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that the deal should receive approval from the Japanese parliament by January.

He said: "It was a very tough negotiation, but we reached the agreement in principle in about three months, at an unusually fast pace.

"While maintaining the high levels of access to the British market under the Japan-EU EPA, we improved our access to the British market on train cars and some auto parts."

Japanese firms in the UK such as Nissan and Hitachi will benefit from reduced tariffs on components imported from Japan, as well as streamlined regulatory frameworks.

Meanwhile, British exports such as pork, beef and salmon will also benefit.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall welcomed the agreement but warned that securing a free trade deal with the European Union had to remain a priority.

He said: "Whilst this agreement is undoubtedly cause for celebration, securing a Free Trade Agreement with the EU remains critical to the future of businesses in the UK.

"We urge ministers to redouble their efforts to reach a comprehensive partnership with our largest trading partner at a crucial time in the negotiations."

Confederation of British Industry director general Carolyn Fairbairn called the agreement a “breakthrough moment”, adding: "It's a huge opportunity to secure new Japanese investment across a wider range of sectors and UK regions.”

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
September 12th 2020, 6:05am

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