UK launches trade talks with Japan
The two sides hope to have a deal in place by the end of 2020.
LONDON — The U.K. and Japan will today begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss hailed the “historic moment” and said the two sides hope to strike a deeper partnership than the EU did with Japan.
Japan refused to roll over its EU trade agreement with the U.K. after the vote for Brexit. It means the two nations will trade on World Trade Organization rules unless a new U.K.-Japan deal is in place by the end of the Brexit transition period.
Both sides said they hope to have a fresh pact in place by then, setting a deadline of December 31, 2020.
Truss will open negotiations via video with Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu. Talks will then be led by former Ambassador Graham Zebedee on the U.K. side. Six working groups will cover 23 chapters and annexes of a future agreement, with around 100 negotiators on the British side.
The U.K. said a new deal with Japan will go further on digital trade and in providing support for small businesses than the EU did with Japan. London also hopes to use a deal as a springboard for joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
U.K. trade with Japan was worth more than £30 billion last year, according to the Department for International Trade, with 9,500 British-based businesses exporting goods to the Asian nation.
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