Last reviewed 10 June 2020

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu have launched talks on a UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Although the agreement will build on the existing EU-Japan deal, it will aim to go further by securing additional benefits in areas such as digital trade and providing support for the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses.

It will allow the UK and Japan to set new standards in areas of digital technology and e-commerce.

Government analysis shows a UK Japan FTA will benefit every region and nation of the UK, with the greatest benefits in Scotland, London and the East Midlands.

Ms Truss also pointed out that Japan is the largest economy of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and a natural leader of that organisation.

The CPTPP currently represents 13% of global GDP and would increase to more than 16% if the UK were to join.

“Our Free Trade Agreement with Japan will act as an important milestone towards the UK’s accession to CPTPP, a goal which Japan fully supports,” the International Trade Secretary said.

Last year, UK trade with Japan was worth over £30 billion and 9500 UK-based businesses exported goods to the country, helping to employ 2.4 million people across the UK.

The UK and Japan are dedicated to leading the global response to the economic challenges posed by coronavirus, the two lead participants said, making international trade easier, fairer and avoiding a retreat into protectionism.

Both countries plan to secure a deal that will enter into force by the end of 2020.

Takaaki Hanaoka, Secretary General of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the UK, said: “The UK and Japan have common ground in that both have mature markets and societies. Both can be partners in further developing economic activities through mutual trade and investment. We urge strongly that a legally binding FTA between UK and Japan be agreed at the earliest opportunity.”