A UK-Japan preferential trade agreement could make a “huge contribution” towards the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) published its negotiating objectives for a free trade agreement with Japan, which include ensuring high standards for animal welfare and food standards, with both parties working towards their commitments on climate change.
This comes after the UK announced it had already began negotiations with both the United States and the EU simultaneously.
Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the FDF, said: “We are pleased to hear the International Trade Secretary’s announcement this morning that talks will soon begin on a new UK-Japan preferential trade agreement. Japan is the world’s largest net importer of food and drink and offers significant growth potential for UK exports of value-added food and drink.
“This deal could make a huge contribution towards the UK’s economic recovery. It is also essential that this agreement is in place to deliver continuity of application of the existing EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and on terms that are at least as generous for trade in agrifood and drink.
“Japan is the world’s largest net importer of food and drink and offers significant growth potential for UK exports of value-added food and drink.”
“Delivering improved regulatory cooperation and avoiding tariffs that may apply after our access to the EPA ends on 1 January 2021 is vital to ensure continued growth in trade in both directions and to ensure UK exports can compete effectively.
“However, the timing presents unique challenges for the capacity of both Government and industry given the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19. We also do not yet know what tariffs the UK will apply at the end of this year to our essential imports. Clarity on this will needed to quickly advance these negotiations. As the talks proceed, regular, open and transparent consultation with our industry will be crucial to ensure the best possible outcome for the UK’s largest manufacturing industry.”
International trade secretary Liz Truss said: ”Japan is one of our largest trading partners and a new trade deal will help to increase trade, boost investment and create more jobs following the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.
“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that goes even further than the existing agreement especially in digital and data.
“Negotiations with Japan are an important step in CPTPP accession, a key UK priority, which will help us diversify our trade and grow the economy.”