Members' Research Service By / July 12, 2018

Bilateral trade deal with Japan – largest to date for EU [International Agreements in Progress]

Negotiations on an EU-Japan trade agreement were officially launched in March 2013. Following the political agreement in principle reached in July 2017, a final accord on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was announced in December 2017.

© chris / Fotolia

Written by Krisztina Binder, graphics: Giulio Sabbati,

EU trade with Japan
© chris / Fotolia

Following the signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in July 2018, and the conclusion of the ratification procedures by both partners at the end of 2018, the agreement entered into force on 1 February 2019. The agreement is the EU’s largest bilateral trade agreement to date. It establishes a free trade area with a combined market of around 640 million consumers, accounting for roughly a third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The European Commission’s analysis of the economic impact of the agreement, published in June 2018, indicated that the EU’s GDP could rise by approximately 0.14 %, and EU exports to Japan by around €13 billion by the time the EPA is fully implemented in 2035. The agreement will provide for significant economic opportunities for sectors such as agri-food and textiles, and it is predicted that no EU sector will be impacted by noticeable losses.

In addition to exploiting the untapped potential of bilateral trade and strengthening the EU’s economic presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the EPA, together with the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), will provide a platform for stronger relations between the EU and Japan. The agreement also conveys a strong message on the parties’ commitment to promoting a free and fair trading system and to rejecting trade protectionism.

Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Japan, of the other part
Committee responsible: International Trade (INTA)
Rapporteur: Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, Portugal)

international agreement in progress - adoption-ratification


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