News, Policy & Media

02Sep

UK-Japan Free Trade talks near completion

UK-Japan Free Trade talks near completion

 

The UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement trade talks are entering their final stage of negotiations. The pace of talks has accelerated ahead of a notional deadline of September set out by Japan. Substantial progress has been made during two days of talks this month between UK and Japanese negotiators in London.

 

The talks form part of the push for international trade deals to be secured by the UK in advance of the end of the Transition Period.

 

The Government's objective is to achieve deals covering 80% of UK trade within the next three years. One of the sticking points remains a British demand for greater market access for Stilton cheese, loudly championed by Liz Truss, the UK trade secretary. Areas such as digital rights and a push to protect famous brands such as Kobe beef and Scotch have been met with accord from both sides so far. Japan is the UK's eleventh largest trade partner and the world's third largest economy. Total trade between both countries was £31. 4 billion in 2019, with exports to Japan worth £15. 2 billion and UK imports from Japan amounting to £16.2 billion. With the FTA in effect, the Government estimates trade flows between both nations could increase by £15. 2 billion.

 

Regarding the life sciences sector, the Government has made clear the NHS will not be put on the table. No significant changes to trade in the sector have been outlined at this stage, however it has been confirmed previous agreements made on mutual recognition of regulations on medical devices will continue to apply. It is expected that the future FTA between the UK and Japan will closely mirror EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA, overwhelmingly approved by the U.K. parliament earlier this year. Minister Truss will likely be pushing for extra benefits for UK business, e.g. British dairy or SME products. A deal could be reached within the month according to Downing Street, after just under three months of negotiations.

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