United Kingdom signs post-Brexit trade deal with Japan

Andrew Cummings
October 24, 2020

While the economic impact is modest - Britain is Japan's 18th-largest trade partner - the accord with the world's third-largest economy is a bright spot for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who promised that Brexit would be an opportunity for Britain to strike better deals as an independent country.

"How fitting it is to be in the land of the Rising Sun to welcome in the dawn of a new era of free trade", Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, said after formally signing the UK's first trade deal since Brexit.

Ms Truss told The Telegraph: "This is about Singapore-on-Tyne, it's about turbocharging our successful industries that we've already got in parts of the country like the North East".

The deal covers sectors from food to textiles and tech and largely replicates the existing EU-Japan arrangement, which will no longer apply to Britain at the end of this year. She added it would "pave the way" towards United Kingdom membership of the wider Trans-Pacific Partnership.

British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss (centre left) signs a document with and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (centre right) for economic partnership between Japan and Britain at Iikura Annex of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, on October 23, 2020.

Ms Truss's optimistic comments come as "intensive" talks between London and Brussels entered a second day.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss hailed the "landmark" agreement as promoting free trade and strengthening bilateral ties after inking the deal in Tokyo, with London seeing it as a step to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership grouping 11 Pacific nations.

The deal largely preserves the terms under which Britain traded with Tokyo as a member of the European Union, according to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Labour has previously said the net benefit of the deal would amount to just 0.07% of GDP.

Rules on e-commerce and financial services have become more ambitious than the Japan-EU pact, including the prohibition on governments requesting businesses to disclose algorithms used in artificial intelligence technology and encryption data.

During the transition period, Britain is still trading with Europe, and internationally, as if it were an European Union member.

It is due to publish a full report on the agreement, including any significant differences or enhancements.

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