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UK and Japan Sign Free Trade Agreement

On Friday, October 23, representatives signed the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the first deal signed by the UK to expand on an existing EU trade deal

Published on October 26, 2020

Liz Truss and Motegi Toshimitsu Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss (left) signs the UK-Japan CEPA along with Japan’s Motegi Toshimitsu. Photo courtesy Department of International Trade.

Last week, on Friday October 23, the UK and Japan signed a free trade agreement, the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The CEPA was signed by the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, and Japan's Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu during a ceremony in Tokyo.

The agreement is notable in that it becomes the first deal struck by the UK which will expand on, rather than simply continue, an existing EU partnership arrangement. Some of the areas which the government says CEPA expands on include digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries.

Discussing the agreement, Liz Truss remarked: "Today is a landmark moment for Britain. It shows what we can do as an independent trading nation, as we secure modern and bespoke provisions in areas like tech and services that are critical to the future of our country and the reshaping of our economy ... The agreement also has a much wider strategic significance. It opens a clear pathway to membership of the Comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership – which will open new opportunities for British business and boost our economic security – and strengthens ties with a like-minded democracy, key ally and major investor in Britain."

Responding to the signing, Dame Caroline Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said "The signing of the UK’s first independent trade agreement is a milestone for our economy and will be welcomed by businesses in many sectors. This deal has the potential to support jobs across the country through lifting British farming exports and supporting our manufacturing and services sectors. Consumers will also benefit through greater choice."

Mike Cherry, National Chair of the FSB, added that "The signing of this FTA with Japan is an important step as the UK begins to embark on an independent trading journey ... With over 8,000 small businesses already exporting to Japan, the market is already a lucrative and successful route to trading, and this should provide small businesses looking to grow, maintain or start exporting to Japan with the certainty they need for the future."

There are a variety of documents on the UK government website which would be useful for those seeking further information on the agreement. See these links below:

Promotional Document - Benefits of the UK-Japan CEPA
Parliamentary Report on the UK's Trading Relationship with Japan
Impact Assessment of the UK-Japan CEPA
Summary of UK-Japan CEPA
Full details on UK-Japan CEPA

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