After launching trade agreement negotiations with the United States and the European Union simultaneously, the United Kingdom has now wants to start trade negotiations with Japan and published its negotiating objectives to strike a free trade agreement.
The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) said talks are to begin shortly.
With the date for the formal and complete withdrawal of the UK from the EU nearing, London is looking all across the world to strike free trade agreements.
“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,” International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement emailed to the media.
In 2018, exports to Japan form the UK amounted to 13.8 billion pounds ($17bn) out of the Britain’s total exports of 642 billion pounds ($787bn) which made Japan the 11th largest trading partner of the UK. In the same year, the UK imported Japanese goods worth 15.4 billion pounds ($18.9bn) out of a total of 680 billion pounds’ ($834bn) worth of global imports into the UK.
“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that goes even further than the existing [EU-Japan] agreement, especially in digital and data,” added Truss.
“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.”
The CPTPP is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership which is a trade deal signed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The DIT said that negotiating objectives for Australia and New Zealand will be set out shortly by the UK government as the government under the leadership of the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson targets to bring about 80 per cent of the total external trade that the country does under free trade agreements by 2022.
“So in addition to wanting to complete trade agreements with two of the three largest global trade powers [the US and EU] in the next year or so, we’re also going to start talks with the fourth largest,” trade expert David Henig, the UK director of the European Centre For International Political Economy, said.
“You can’t fault the ambition, but such a programme before we’ve taken time to consider what we want looks reckless. The risk is that by the time we know what we really want from trade agreements, we’ll have given away the access to our own market which we could have traded.”
The National Health Service will not be opened up to foreign companies, the UK has pledged, and it will not be part of any free trade negotiation. The UK wants that the current EU-Japan trading agreement to become the basis of a trade deal with Japan.
“As Japan is an existing EU Free Trade Agreement, and they don’t want to directly roll over the agreement, it makes sense to open talks,” added Henig. “The cumulative effect of all of the talks is the major concern.”
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)