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Milestone agreement

UK signs post-Brexit trade deal with Japan

Liz Truss: ‘historic moment’ (pic: Downing Street)

Britain has secured a post-Brexit trade deal with Japan, its most significant trading agreement since leaving the EU.

It is likely to provide a timely injection of optimism for the Tory government as it engages in tense negotiations with Brussels.

The government claimed the agreement will boost trade with Japan by £15.2bn over the next 15 years and UK businesses will enjoy tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to the country.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss agreed the deal, in principle, with Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi on a video call this morning.

Ms Truss hailed it as a “historic moment for the UK” and said it was an improvement on the EU-Japan trade deal.

“The agreement we have negotiated – in record time and in challenging circumstances – goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries,” she said.

She added that it was an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson  tweeted: “We have taken back control of our trade policy & will continue to thrive as a trading nation outside the EU.”

UK government figures reveal that in 2018 the UK’s trade with Japan was worth £29.1bn compared with £659.5bn with the EU.

The UK exports £430m worth of food and drink to Japan each year.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: “Businesses will warmly welcome this milestone free trade deal with Japan, which provides access to a major market for traders across the UK.

Adam Marshall

Adam Marshall: milestone (pic: Terry Murden)

“Whilst this agreement is undoubtedly cause for celebration, securing a Free Trade Agreement with the EU remains critical to the future of businesses in the UK.

“We urge Ministers to redouble their efforts to reach a comprehensive partnership with our largest trading partner at a crucial time in the negotiations.”

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said it was “great news”, adding: “Let us hope that this success can be mirrored in the current negotiations to secure a Free Trade deal with our European partners.’’

Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “This is an important step both for continuity and for the UK striking out on its own.

“When it comes to countries where we already had preferential terms through the EU, it’s essential the Government minds the gap  and ensures that the transition from our current trading arrangements is as seamless as possible. Clearly on this it has been listening to business.” 



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