Business has welcomed the UK’s trade deal with Japan, its first since the departure from the EU, which is estimated to increase trade with the country by £15.2bn.
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on a video call this morning.
The UK Government said the deal is tailored to the UK economy and that it would secure additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a range of areas.
It said it will help to create jobs and drive economic growth throughout the whole of the UK.
UK businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan.
Among those welcoming the news was Jim Walker, Managing Director of Walkers Shortbread.
He said: “Japan remains one of Walkers’ most important markets and sales have grown steadily there since first launching in Japan over 40 years ago.
“This deal will help provide certainty and create more opportunities to continue building sales in the future in a market where our products already enjoy success.”
Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “This is an important step both for continuity and for the UK striking out on its own.
“When it comes to countries where we already had preferential terms through the EU, it’s essential the Government minds the gap and ensures that the transition from our current trading arrangements is as seamless as possible. Clearly on this it has been listening to business.
“Directors will be delighted to see that in some areas the UK and Japan have delivered even further liberalisation, and look forward to seeing the detail of the final trade deal once it has been concluded.
“We hope the spirit of both ambition and compromise will help land further continuity deals such as with Turkey and Canada, as well as an agreement with the EU, which is of utmost importance to IoD members.”
BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Businesses will warmly welcome this milestone free trade deal with Japan, which provides access to a major market for traders across the UK.
“Chambers of Commerce stand ready to work with government to ensure that the benefits of this agreement are felt by businesses on the ground. Firms will want to see the specific provisions to support small businesses replicated in future trade deals to help business communities thrive and grow in future.
“Whilst this agreement is undoubtedly cause for celebration, securing a Free Trade Agreement with the EU remains critical to the future of businesses in the UK. We urge Ministers to redouble their efforts to reach a comprehensive partnership with our largest trading partner at a crucial time in the negotiations.”