TOKYO – Japan and the United Kingdom signed on Friday a new agreement that will govern their economic ties, the first signed by the London Government after “Brexit” and that lays the foundations for a strong increase in trade between the two nations.
The pact was signed in Tokyo by UK International Trade Minister Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Toshimitsu Motegi a month and a half after the points of the agreement were defined in a negotiation of more than four months.
“This is the UK’s first trade agreement as an independent nation,” said Truss in a few words after the document was signed, alluding to her country’s exit from the European Union.
The British official said many in the “post-Brexit” era thought the UK “would either be unable to reach trade agreements or would need years to conclude them.”
“We have proved them wrong … because we have agreed in record time,” Truss said after the ceremony at the Iikura Foreign Offices in Tokyo.
The pact fills the void that will arise once the UK’s exit from the EU is completed at the end of this year, and determines the new framework for trade between the two nations.
Motegi said the negotiation had been “tough” but that in the end they reached a consensus on positions as proof of the “determination of Japan and the United Kingdom to promote free trade.”
The new agreement progressively reduces British tariffs on the importation of Japanese automobiles until they are completely eliminated by 2026, such as the pact between the EU and Japan, and will also automatically eliminate other tariffs on spare parts and Japanese railway machinery.
According to London, the agreement gives the UK benefits that go beyond the existing trade agreement between Japan and the EU.
Among other provisions, it allows 99 percent of British exports to Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, to benefit from duty-free trade.
Truss said on Friday it is expected that thanks to this new agreement the commercial exchange between the two countries will grow by about 15,000 million pounds ($19,000 million).