April 19, 2018

EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement

Serhiy Polyovyk

Wednesday, April 18, there were reports from Strasbourg that Japan and the EU reached the final stage of the preparation of a large-scale agreement on a free economic area.

Negotiations and preparation of this document lasted for five years and ended in December last year. The relevant EU institutions presented the draft to the EU Member States. The European Commission must approve the agreement by summer 2018 and it should come into force not later than the next autumn, 2019. European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said on this occasion at the press conference in the European Parliament that she hoped for a quick drafting of the project.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which the parties had been preparing since 2013, will eliminate customs and other trade barriers, stimulating the growth of volumes of goods turnover and creation of new jobs. Japan is the third (after the USA and China) largest economic power in the world and, of course, is an interesting European market for sales.

By the way, an agreement between the EU and Japan, where more than 600 million inhabitants live and whose economic potential is cannot help being respected, will create the largest free trade area in the world. Now these two partners account for about one third of world economic production.

EU-Japan trade agreement: facts and figures
EU-Japan trade agreement: facts and figures

It should be noted that the EU's active economic position at the international level is not limited to the agreement with Japan. Significant progress has been made in the Asian region in view of another such free trade agreement with Singapore, which is also proposed for approval by the European Parliament.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday in Strasbourg that today a step is being taken towards signing agreements with the EU's two closest Asian partners. At this, the agreement with Singapore is divided into two parts after the European Court of Justice had ruled that the agreement proposed in the preliminary form could not be signed. The judges decided that the text of the agreement was written in such a way that national parliaments could not participate in the voting procedure, although part of the agreement was not the exclusive competence of the EU.

Taking into consideration the protectionist style of US President Donald Trump's managing, the EU will intensify negotiations on trade agreements with other countries and regions. For example, negotiations with Mexico are under way on improvement of the current agreement. Negotiations with the countries of the South American economic bloc (MERCOSUR), which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, are at the final stage.

The EU's active development of relations with the countries of the Asian region can be witnessed, firstly, by the forced response to the uncertain position of the current US administration regarding its European partners and the efforts to ensure stable functioning of the European economy using the capabilities of Asian partners. Secondly, it may be the EU's desire to balance its own prospects and interests with China's geopolitical aspirations on the Eurasian subcontinent, in particular, taking into account the implementation of parts of the PRC's “Belt and Road” initiative in Europe. It is possible that the European Union's leadership resorts to a coordinated and tested by time economic policy, in view of the above-mentioned Chinese initiative on three directions in Europe — Southern Europe (sea freight), Eastern and Northern Europe (land and air transportations).

Active development of the EU relations with the countries of the Asian region
Active development of the EU relations with the countries of the Asian region

In this case, it is advisable to determine the possibility and directions of realization of Ukraine's interests against the background of the above-mentioned projects of the EU, China, Japan and other countries, participating in these and similar projects. It is desirable that our geopolitical advantages and geopolitical possibilities are more actively articulated in the bilateral format of international negotiations and in communicating with the EU.