Japan, Britain ink post-Brexit free trade deal

Marco Green
October 25, 2020

In a ceremony in Tokyo, Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi put their names to the pact, which was reached in principle last month, about three months after formal negotiations began.

Japan and the United Kingdom signed a post-Brexit bilateral free trade agreement Friday, paving the way for its implementation January 1 next year to ensure continuity in trade and investment beyond the end of London's transition period out of the European Union.

Truss said it was appropriate for "the land of the rising sun to welcome in the dawn of a new era of free trade", calling the east Asian power a "key ally and major investor in Britain".

It follows over four months of negotiations often carried out by video-conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules confirm that it will be mandatory for all Heavy Goods Vehicles using the Short Strait channel crossings to obtain a digital Kent Access Permit, and reduce the risk of disruption as hauliers travel through Kent to reach the Short Straits - one of Britain's busiest trade routes.

Other beneficiaries will include financial services and the food and drink sector.

Britain said the new deal meant 99% of its exports to Japan would be tariff-free.

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Britain seals first major post-Brexit free trade deal with Japan

Britain formally left the European Union as a political institution on January 31, four years after a referendum that saw voters decide to withdraw from the now-27-nation bloc. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also targeting agreements with the United States, Australia and New Zealand. An economically and symbolically significant deal with the USA looks like it has been pushed into next year.

Financial services make up Britain's biggest export to Japan, now standing at 28 percent.

"It provides British businesses with the gateway to the Asia-Pacific.and it paves the way for the accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership", Truss said in a joint press announcement with Motegi, referring to the framework including Japan, Australia and Mexico and accounting for about 13 percent of the global economy.

President Trump pulled the US out of the trading bloc in 2017 but other members include Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.

Membership could offer Britain strategic leverage in a part of the world that's growing increasingly important economically.

It's likely some member-nations will want to see the benefits of a deal with Japan before they allow Britain to join.

The UK side agreed to resume talks after Barnier told MEPs that "compromises on both sides" were needed to conclude an EU-UK trade deal, in a speech in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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