The time is so short that the two parties will need to “limit their ambitions,” said Hiroshi Matsuura, Tokyo’s chief negotiator, comments that dash the united KINGDOM, the hope of winning the deep of the trade liberalization of Japan.
While respecting the schedule from the hand of Mr. Johnson, an early trade victory, it also highlights the risk that the united KINGDOM will be returned in the wrong business before the brexit transition expires at the end of the year.
Striking a trade agreement with Japan is one of the top priorities for Liz Truss, the UK secretary of state for trade, who welcomed the beginning of talks as a “historic moment” for the two countries. When negotiations began two weeks ago, she said that the united KINGDOM and Japan had signed an “ambitious timeline” to complete the negotiations.
The most comprehensive of the free trade agreements normally take years to be agreed, but Mr Matsuura said there was almost no time if Japan would ratify an agreement this year.
“To avoid a gap in January, we need to move now to the autumn session of the Diet [the Japanese parliament]” he told the Financial Times. “This means that we need to conclude the negotiations by the end of the month of July.”
Last year, the “mini-agreement” between Japan and the US took six months to negotiate, even if it was not finalised until September and still passed the Plan in December. That suggests there may be a degree of flexibility in Mr. Matsuura’s July deadline.
The two parties have agreed to the basic agreement on the existing EU-Japan agreement, which came into force last year — but the united KINGDOM has set itself other goals, including “reduction or elimination” of Japanese tariffs on goods and agriculture, and the “ambitious commitments on access to markets” for the UK services.
However, Mr Matsuura suggested there would be little time for discussion of controversial issues such as tariffs and quotas. “The shortage of time means that the two parties will have to limit their ambitions,” he said.
His comments raise the risk that the united KINGDOM will not be secure meaningful quotas for the sale of agricultural products such as beef or cheese in the Japanese market. Agriculture is one of the most contentious areas in the EU-Japan trade negotiations.
Instead, one of the priorities of the united KINGDOM is likely to have rules of origin that allow British exporters to continue to include European components in the products that they sell in Japan. Mr. Matsuura has declined to comment on the content of the united KINGDOM, the Japan case.
In response to Tokyo’s comments, an official from the BRITISH Department of International Trade, said: “We will fight for the British farmers ‘ access to the Japanese market in the framework of an agreement with ambitious digital and data chapters.”
Another top official SAID added that data and digital services is the united KINGDOM is mainly concentrated in the negotiations. Last month, Ms Truss said she hoped for a “comprehensive approach” united KINGDOM Japan agreement, which “goes further than the agreement previously agreed with the EU”.
Tokyo is dangling the prospect of a second chance for more peaceful negotiations if the united KINGDOM applies to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with 11 Pacific nations, including Japan, Canada, Malaysia, and Vietnam, adding to the pressure for a quick deal now.
With the work on the framework of other trade agreements, in large part, completed, Japan has put almost all its veteran negotiators working on intensive negotiations with their British counterparts. “We do this to treat it differently than the usual style. Instead of the rounds of talks, we negotiate every day,” Mr Matsuura said.
Since the trip is not possible due to Covid-19, the negotiations are in progress on the video calls between the private homes in the united KINGDOM and Japan, making them unusual in format, as well as the speed.