EU – Japan EPA presented to the European Council, ratification begins

On 18 April 2018 the European Commission (the “Commission“) presented the finalised text of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (“EPA“) to the European Council and thereby took the first step in the EPA’s ratification process at the EU level.  Getting to this point took significant time and effort: the first of 18 rounds of negotiations began in early 2013, dozens of meetings were held within the EU itself, and the consolidated text was not finalised until (almost five years later in) December 2017.  While the time required to negotiate the text of the EPA is consistent with that taken by another recent EU agreement (the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA“) took a little over 5 years), both parties to the EPA appear keen to kick the ratification process into high gear.  If the parties’ plans come to fruition, the EPA will enter into force by 29 March 2019 and potentially will do so even before the formal conclusion of CETA, the text of which was finalised years earlier than that of the EPA.

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EU – Japan Economic Partnership Agreement announced

On 6 July 2017 the EU and Japan announced an agreement in principle on their Economic Partnership Agreement (“EPA“).  The scale of this agreement is eye-popping: once in effect the EPA will cover nearly 40 percent of all goods exports, 10 percent of the Earth’s population, and about 30 percent of global GDP.  The breadth of goods covered by the EPA will be similarly substantial and includes agricultural and food products, the forestry sector, industrial products, the automotive sector, electronics, and services.  While some tariffs, such as those on wine, will disappear from the moment the EPA enters into force, other tariffs – including those on imports of Japanese automobiles to Europe and imports of European chocolates to Japan – will disappear over a number of years.  The net effect will be to remove tariffs from 99 per cent of all goods traded between the EU and Japan with one study suggesting consequent increases in EU exports to Japan of 34% and Japanese exports to the EU of 29%. Continue reading