Alliance with Japan

Source: A.C. (Cecilia) Malmström i, published on Wednesday, July 12 2017.

For the past week or so, everything has been about Japan. Yesterday, I met with the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade and participated in the EU-Japan Business Summit in Brussels, to present to them the political agreement that we have reached with Japan on an Economic Partnership between us.

(Read my full speech at the Business Summit, and watch the video from the Parliament).

Our agreement in principle is the culmination of our negotiations for a trade deal that started back in 2013. Our negotiators were engaged in endgame talks for several weeks leading up to last week, basically 24/7. Commissioner Hogan and I had tough negotiations in Tokyo the first weekend of July, over a very intense 30-hour visit. I then met Foreign Minister Kishida again here in Brussels last week to iron out the very last details of our economic partnership agreement, before our leaders could give their blessing at the EU-Japan summit.

It goes without saying that this economic partnership is an enormous deal for the EU. Japan is the fourth largest economy in the world, and an immensely important partner for us. With the Japanese having a big appetite for European products, we expect a major boost in many sectors of the EU economy - our yearly exports could grow by 20 billion compared to today. And we could triple our exports of processed food, one of the areas where we have had strong interests to open up the Japanese market further.

Having nailed down a political agreement means that all the major parts of the deal - and the most complicated issues when it comes to market access, for example - are done. The scale of its ambition, and the combined economic size, would make it one of the biggest the world has ever seen.

From day one, our agreement will fully liberalise 91% of our goods exports to Japan, including important sectors like chemicals, cosmetics, clothing, wine and beer. After full implementation, this rises to 99%. Our deal also means cutting red tape and helping smaller business with small resources that can't afford unnecessary bureaucracy.

We are getting access to Japanese public procurement markets, including larger cities, hospitals, universities, and removing restrictions on railways. Meanwhile, Japan agrees to protect over 200 kinds of top-quality EU food and drink - Tiroler Speck, Munich beer, Jambon d'Ardennes, Polska vodka, and many more.

All of this means more jobs. In the agricultural and car sectors, as well as in the production of medical devices, in exports of timber, and in many other areas. Also, imports that we need from Japan, in order to safeguard even more European jobs, will become much easier.

We both agree to implement fundamental international labour standards, and environmental treaties like the Paris climate change deal. This is a modern, progressive agreement to support two modern economies.

Our documentation about the political agreement that we have sent to member states has been published online, as well as many chapters where the texts are finished. On the website of the agreement, you can also find info on how the European Parliament, the Council and civil society have been kept informed throughout this process. This is part of our ongoing efforts to bring trade negotiations out of dark basements and into the public debate.

Now, negotiators from both sides will work to resolve remaining technical issues and conclude a legal text of the whole agreement by the end of the year.

Equally important as the sheer economic benefits of this deal, is to clearly demonstrate closer cooperation and bridges between us, in a time when many countries around the world seem to be turning inward. It is a clear stand against protectionism, and the value of that cannot be overstated. Together, we are showing that we actively want to shape globalisation, instead of turning away from it.