UK-Japan deal offers big boost to local firms

14 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan Foreign Minister on a video call on Friday.  It is the UK’s first major trade deal outside the EU.

The deal secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, including a way for Northern Irish products to be officially recognised. By increasing geographical indications (GIs) from just seven under the terms of the EU-Japan deal to potentially over 70 under the UK-Japan agreement, this would lead to improved recognition of key UK brands in the Japanese market, report agencies.

Products that could benefit from the new arrangements are Irish poteen, Armagh bramley apples, Lough Neagh eels and Lough Neagh pollan.

A deal could increase UK trade with Japan by £15.2 billion, giving a £1.5 billion boost to economy and increasing UK workers’ wages by £800 million in the long run. This will benefit the 120 businesses in Northern Ireland that exported to Japan last year and help even more local businesses to sell their goods to Japan for the first time.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan. This is our first major post-Brexit trade deal and it goes far beyond the existing EU deal by securing new wins for British businesses including in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries.  

“From our Armagh bramley apples and Irish poteen to our specialist tea makers, this deal will create new opportunities for people throughout Northern Ireland and help level up the whole of the UK. 

“Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing the UK at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with liken-minded friends and allies.”   

The removal of several trade barriers aims to assist the UK’s 8,000 SMEs already exporting goods to Japan, by offering tariff-free trade on 99 per cent of UK exports to Japan.  

The UK has negotiated a deal that sees tariffs fall on pork, beef, salmon and a range of other agricultural exports, which will be welcome news to Northern Ireland meat producers whose exports last year accounted for 41 per cent of the UK’s total exports of meat and meat preparations to Japan.

Other key benefits of the deal include: Cutting-edge digital & data provisions that go far beyond the EU-Japan deal, including enabling free flow of data, a commitment to uphold the principles of net neutrality and a ban on data localisation that will prevent British businesses from having the extra cost of setting up servers in Japan.

Improved market access for UK financial services – including greater transparency and streamlined application processes for UK firms seeking licences to operate in Japan.