European Union strikes free trade deal with Japan amid rising United States protectionism

EU, Japan sign trade deal in 'message against protectionism'

"This agreement will create an open trade zone covering almost a third of the world's GDP", he said.

European Union firms already export over €58bn worth of goods and €28bn worth of services to Japan every year.

Japan and the EU account for about a third of global GDP and their trade relationship has room to grow, according to EU officials, who expect the deal to boost the EU economy by 0.8 per cent and Japan's by 0.3 per cent over the long term.

Based on his "America First" policy, Trump has shown an increasingly protectionist stance on the trade front by taking such measures as threatening to impose further tariffs on not just steel and aluminium but also automobiles. The EPA has raised Japan-EU relations to a new height, he said.

Japan's ambassador for worldwide economic affairs, Yoichi Suzuki, has previously said it was 'a very high priority that [the deal] enter force before the end of March 2019, ' referring to the date when Britain is set to leave the EU.

"We are sending a clear message that we stand against protectionism".

"The deal removes European Union tariffs of 10 percent on Japanese cars and 3 percent on most vehicle parts", according to Reuters.

"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", Tusk said Monday in Beijing.

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It was delayed from earlier this month because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled going to Brussels over a disaster in southwestern Japan, caused by extremely heavy rainfall. The difference reflects exceptions on such products as rice, which enjoys strong political protection from imports in Japan. The deal will bring down the prices for European wine, pork and cheeses for Japanese consumers, while made-in-Japan machinery parts, tea and fish will become cheaper for Europeans.

The European Union and Japan are signing the single market's biggest trade deal ever and present a united front as Washington upends the worldwide trade order.

The major step toward liberalising trade was discussed in talks since 2013 but is striking in the timing of the signing, as China and the United States are embroiled in trade conflicts.

The US is proposing 10% tariffs on a 200 billion dollar (£151 billion) list of Chinese goods.

The United States this month imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion (£25.6 billion) of Chinese goods to lower the USA trade deficit, and China quickly retaliated with an increase in tariffs on US goods.

In addition its deal with Japan, the European Union is nearing ratification of a landmark agreement with Canada, though some stumbling blocks remain. The European bloc is also pursuing deals with Mexico, Australia, and Mercosur, the South American trading bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Japan's growth continues to be heavily dependent on exports.

The foreign ministry said that by strengthening ties with the EU, Japan hopes to vitalise mutual direct investment, fight other global trends toward protectionism and enhance the stature of Japanese brands. "The EU and Japan remain open for cooperation", European Council President Donald Tusk, who speaks for the 28 EU national leaders, told reporters.

Japan will scrap tariffs on hard cheese such as cheddar and gouda in the 16th year of the treaty, while duties will be scrapped on European chocolate and pasta after 10 years.

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