As the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan entered into force on 1 February 2019, the European Commission said that businesses across the two partners can now take advantage of the largest open trade zone in the world.

“Europe and Japan are sending a message to the world about the future of open and fair trade,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “We are opening a new marketplace home to 635 million people and almost a third of the world’s gross domestic product, bringing the people of Europe and Japan closer together than ever before.”

The EPA removes the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan. Once the agreement is fully implemented, Japan will have scrapped customs duties on 97% of goods imported from the EU.

The agreement also removes a number of long-standing non-tariff barriers, for example, by endorsing international standards on cars.

It will also break down barriers for key EU food and drink exporters to 127 million Japanese consumers and will increase export opportunities in a range of other sectors. Annual trade between the EU and Japan could increase by nearly €36 billion once the agreement is implemented in full.

The EPA will:

  • scrap Japanese duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently are at 29.8%) as well as on wine exports (currently at 15% on average)

  • ensure the protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, so-called Geographical Indications (GIs), and the protection of a selection of Japanese GIs in the EU

  • secure the opening of services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport.

See europa.eu for full details of the agreement.

Last reviewed 4 February 2019