The UK has officially signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan, marking an historic moment, as the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation and offering a glimpse of Global Britain’s potential. The UK Government’s press release highlights that this is:
- A British-shaped deal that goes beyond the existing EU agreement, securing bespoke benefits for British businesses and citizens.
- An important step towards joining the Comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade area - which would result in closer ties with 11 Pacific countries.
Interestingly, the UK Government has not published the text of the agreement, although the Japanese Government has done so. However, we can provide a copy of the agreement if you wish to go through the 405 pages of detail contained within - contact Geoff Noon at MTA for a copy (email: email@example.com).
Our colleague Jack Semple (Secretary of EAMA) has produced a brief summary of the key points and some comments as they affect the manufacturing sector. These include:
- The FTA appears largely to roll over conditions in the EU-Japan EPA that came into effect in February - just after the UK left the EU - so it will be largely business as usual. Failure to agree before the end of the year would have been problematic.
- It goes beyond that EPA in cutting certain tariffs on car and rail parts, which will benefit Japanese manufacturing in the UK - firms such as Nissan and Hitachi. This include “streamlined regulatory procedures and greater legal certainty for their operations”.
- A commitment from Japan to support UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- The UK Government claims that “the estimated boost to trade between the UK and Japan is over £15 billion” but this needs explanation. The £15 billion figure is over 15 years and the measurement is against 2018, before the new EU-Japan EPA, which covers UK trade with Japan until the end of this year.
The UK Government has, however, published a “commentary” outlining key differences between this agreement and the EU-Japan EPA. Section 2 of this focuses on manufacturing, section 3 focuses on digital and data and section 7 focuses on SMEs. Among the claims for the manufacturing sector is the negotiation of tariff free trade for the UK for a range of goods including decorations for Christmas festivities, fishing rods and sleeping bags. We have attached this document below.
You can also find guidance on the trade agreements the UK has already signed and our discussions with countries the EU has a trade agreement with at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries.