European Union and Japan to sign historic trade deal

How to negotiate a trade deal

President Trump called the European Union a trading "foe" last week, and on Tuesday European leaders replied by signing an economic partnership with Japan that will eliminate nearly all tariffs on bilateral goods.

The agreement is now awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and the Japanese Diet following which it could enter into force in 2019, the European Commission said.

It also provides a stark counterpoint to US President Donald Trump's aggressive "America First" protectionism, which has seen Washington impose trade tariffs on allies and rivals alike. The deal is set to eliminate 99 percent of export levies on Japanese goods coming to the bloc with tariffs on European imports to Japan expected to remain at around 94 percent.

The deals come as Trump pushes the world's largest economy into a more protectionist direction with various tariffs and trade restrictions. Japan will no more levy duties on European cheese and wines.

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.

Trump's administration has angered traditional allies like the European Union and Japan by imposing trade tariffs, while rattling global markets by threatening a trade war with China.

Japan's ambassador for global 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.

The signing had been due to take place in Brussels on July 11, but Abe was forced to cancel his trip after torrential rains triggered flooding and landslides in Japan that killed about 220 people. The difference reflects exceptions on such products as rice, which enjoys strong political protection from imports in Japan.

Japan and the European Union signed a new free trade deal on Tuesday
Japan and the European Union signed a new free trade deal on Tuesday

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 U.S.is proposing 10 percent tariffs on a $200 billion list of Chinese goods.

"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.

Beijing has responded by imposing identical penalties on a similar amount of American imports.

The European Union and Japan signed an agreement on Tuesday that will lift close to 100 percent of tariffs on products exchanged between the two. Japan's growth remains heavily dependent on exports.

Europe's food sector is one of the biggest winners from the deal, which should allow it to capitalise on Japanese demand for high-quality cheese, chocolates, meats and pasta.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, hailed the agreement as the "largest bilateral trade deal ever". Europeans should benefit, too, from lower vehicle prices.

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