UK and Japan agree in principle to free trade agreement

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the third day of the G7 summit on August 26, 2019 in Biarritz, France.Andrew Parsons – Piscine | Getty Images

LONDON – The UK and Japan reached an agreement in principle on a trade deal on Friday, in a measure that sees the UK reaching its first major deal after Brexit.The announcement, which the UK has called a “historic moment”, comes as Britain struggles to secure a deal with its closest trading partners to the European Union.

The UK Department of Commerce said UK businesses would benefit from duty-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. He also suggested that the deal would see the country increase trade with Japan by £ 15.2 billion ($ 19.5 billion).

The deal will include digital and data provisions that go “well beyond” the EU-Japan deal, Britain said, allowing “the free flow of data while maintaining high standards of protection personal data ”.

The tentative deal, which will require the approval of the British and Japanese parliaments, is expected to enter into force at the end of the year.

“This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as the first major trade deal after Brexit,” Liz Truss, UK secretary for international trade, said in a statement.

“Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing Britain at the center of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies. ideas, ”Truss said.

The British pound traded at $ 1.2770 in mid-morning trading, about 0.25% lower for the session.

“World Great Britain”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this year that Britain could become the superman of world trade, striking lucrative deals on its own terms after the country’s exit from the EU in January.

The proposed deal with Japan is the first major deal for the world’s fifth-largest economy after Brexit.

Carolyn Fairbairn, chief executive of the Confederation of British Industry, described the deal as a “watershed moment” that would be “welcomed by businesses across the country”.

“Businesses will help the government support its efforts to secure more trade deals around the world and promote their benefits to communities. The agreement with Japan may be the first in a long series, ”said Fairbairn.

However, critics of Johnson’s “Global Britain” agenda suggest that free trade deals with countries around the world are unlikely to make up for lost exports to the EU if it fails to reach a goal. agreement with Brussels.

The UK and the EU are currently at odds with the so-called UK Internal Market Bill. The bill, proposed earlier this week, aims to change part of the country’s Brexit deal with the EU. If approved, it would allow ministers to amend parts of the Northern Ireland protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, negotiated last year.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, a government minister, has since admitted that the Internal Market Bill “would violate international law”.

In response, the opposition UK Labor Party condemned the proposal, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said she was “very concerned about the UK government’s announcement”.

In the United States, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and Democratic MP, said on Wednesday that if the United Kingdom violates its international agreements, “there will be absolutely no chance that a trade agreement between the United States and the UK goes through Congress ”.

The UK and the EU are now trying to reach a trade deal before the end of the transition period on December 31, with the UK ready to adopt World Trade Organization rules if no deal is reached. is found.

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