European Union and Japan to hold Brussels summit on huge free trade deal

A customer looks at various types of imported cheese sold at a department store in Tokyo on July 1

The group was reacting to the announcement by European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström that a political agreement on a trade deal between the EU and Japan has been reached on the ministerial level ahead of a bilateral summit on July 7.

According to the official, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association has been calling on Brussels to negotiate a transition period with Japan for the removal of import duties on cars. The EU claims about half of the global cheese market, while Japanese dairy farms struggle to survive.

Japan is the EU's second largest trading partner in Asia and supplying beef to this market at lower tariff rates could potentially make it more attractive to EU-based exporters.

The Japan-EU free trade pact is "one of the important pillars of Abenomics", Abe told reporters before leaving for Brussels on Wednesday, referring to his economic policy.

The deal will affect a majority of the commerce between the two economic giants.

The deal is said to recognise the "special status" of European agricultural products - including Irish whiskey - while the export process for motor vehicles will be "significantly simplified".

Juncker echoed the Japanese prime minister, but noted that, "The depth of the agreement goes far beyond trade, its impacts go far beyond our shores".

Belgium's Wallonia region held up the ratification process for the trade deal with Canada past year, nearly hindering the signing of the accord. "Enterprise Ireland's strategic focus is to help clients grow exports to Japan in the medtech, aviation, fintech and agri-tech sector and the tariff elimination on medical devices and pharmaceutical products in particular is good news for Irish exporters", said Mr Adams.

The European Commission also noted that the deal will "include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement".

Juncker also referred to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), an ad hoc arbitration system that was widely criticised in previous deals and was eventually scrapped by the EU.

Mr Tusk also said the deal countered the argument put forward by some of those in favour of Brexit that the European Union was unable to promote free trade: "Although some are saying that the time of isolationism and disintegration is coming again, we are demonstrating that this is not the case".

European Union leaders will discuss on Friday options to "screen" foreign investment in strategic sectors, but a more far-reaching proposal that would allow blocking takeovers at European Union level remains off the table for now.

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