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UK and Japan agree historic free trade agreement

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The UK has today secured a free trade agreement with Japan, which is the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation.

The UK has secured a free trade agreement with Japan, which is the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation and will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion.

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on a video call this morning (Friday 11 September).

The deal is tailored to the UK economy and secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a number of areas. It will help to create jobs and drive economic growth throughout the whole of the UK.

The deal is also an important step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This will give UK businesses a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region and help to increase the resilience and diversity of our supply chains.

UK businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. Government analysis shows that a deal with Japan will deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy and increase UK workers’ wages by £800 million in the long run.

UK manufacturers, food and drink producers and the tech sector are all set to benefit from the measures. 

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said:

"This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as our first major post-Brexit 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.

"From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the North of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country.

"Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing Britain at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies." 

Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry said:

"As we look to the UK’s global trading future, trade deals we sign should be about businesses of all sizes, which is why we are delighted to see a UK-Japan trade deal today that includes a comprehensive chapter for SMEs. FSB has long campaigned for these chapters to be included in trade deals, to give UK small businesses the support and tools they need to reach new markets.

"The UK-Japan trade deal therefore marks a major moment. It provides access to a major global market for the UK’s small business exporters, with one in ten viewing Japan as a crucial market to tap into. With over 130,000 small businesses already exporting to Japan, this should provide small businesses looking to grow, maintain or start exporting to Japan with the certainty they need for the future."

Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn said:

"The signing of the UK-Japan trade deal is a breakthrough moment. It will be welcomed by businesses across the country. The Government and business now need to work together to make the most from the deal. It’s a huge opportunity to secure new Japanese investment across a wider range of sectors and UK regions.

"Business will help support the Government in its efforts to secure more trade deals around the world and promote their benefits to communities. The Japan deal can be the first of many." 

CEO of TechUK, Julian David said:

"TechUK welcomes the conclusion of the UK-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement with its comprehensive digital trade chapter. Today’s agreement improves an already flourishing relationship between the UK and Japan tech sectors and creates significant opportunities for trade and investment for both our countries.

"Since 2018, in partnership with JEITA, we have run a successful UK-Japan Tech Forum to enable our members to develop a closer relationship with Japan and we look forward to working with the Government and our partners in Japan to assist the tech sector in taking full opportunity of this agreement."

Jim Walker, Managing Director of Walkers Shortbread said:

"We welcome the news that a UK-Japan agreement has been agreed today. Japan remains one of Walkers’ most important markets and sales have grown steadily there since first launching in Japan over 40 years ago.

"This deal will help provide certainty and create more opportunities to continue building sales in the future in a market where our products already enjoy success." 

Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade, Food and Drink Federation said:

"UK food and drink manufacturers are delighted to hear the UK has concluded a comprehensive new trade deal with Japan. As the world’s largest net importer of food and drink, this deal with Japan improves our existing terms of trade and offers significant new growth opportunities for quality UK manufacturing. We particularly welcome the additional flexibility this deal delivers in terms of rules of origin which are so crucial for our industry.

"The agreement recognises the unique challenge posed by seasonality and provides confidence for UK exporters across a wide range of product categories. This deal can make a vital contribution towards the UK’s economic recovery and our industry is ready to deliver for every community across the UK."

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