EU and Japan free trade deal covers 600 million people

How to negotiate a trade deal
How to negotiate a trade deal

Japan and the European Union have finalized a huge free trade deal that covers 600 million people and almost a third of the global economy.

The Economic Partnership Agreement, which has been in the works since 2011, will remove tariffs on almost all European exports, including cheese and wine. Japanese automakers and electronics firms will face fewer barriers in the EU.

Japan and the EU traded roughly $140 billion of goods last year, according to EU data.

The EU said the agreement, which won preliminary approval in July, will help support more than 600,000 jobs in the bloc that are tied to exports to Japan. Another half a million EU workers are employed by Japanese companies.

Related: Japan and Europe are racing to agree a big free trade deal

japan eu handshake

The push by Japan and the EU to remove trade barriers stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by President Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the start of his presidency.

The European Commission said that the deal "demonstrates the powerful political will of Japan and the EU to continue to keep the flag of free trade waving high."

"We are sending a message to other countries about the importance of free and fair trade, and of shaping globalization," Cecilia Malmström, Europe's top trade official, said in a statement.

The deal must be signed off by individual EU countries before it is implemented.

Closer ties between Europe and the world's No.3 economy could make it harder for U.S. businesses to compete with global rivals, especially when it comes to selling agricultural products such as pork to Japan.

After quitting the TPP, the U.S. showed interest in reaching a separate free trade deal with Japan. The two sides held talks in April, but those have since taken a back seat to Trump's push to renegotiate NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.

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