“It ensures continuity, so that after the end of the year, if the UK is no longer treated as an EU member for international free trade agreements, trade with Japan can continue under the same conditions,” he said. Until recently, Japan focused its bilateral negotiating program on some countries around the Pacific. Important agreements have been signed with Singapore (2002), Malaysia (2004), Mexico (2004), the Philippines (2006), Indonesia (2007), Chile (2007), Thailand (2007), ASEAN as a whole (2008) and Vietnam (2008). Six important agreements have been concluded between the EU and Japan to date. Other objectives include other objectives that are slipping into Japan`s bilateral trade agenda: in early 2005, Japan began exploring possible discussions with Switzerland and negotiations began in 2007. In 2006, spurred on by concerns about access to energy resources, Japan pledged to restart discussions for a free trade agreement with Kuwait and other oil and Gas countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Japanese companies are also increasingly concerned about international trade disadvantages, leading to free trade agreements with Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand and even some pious rhetoric about a U.S.-Japan deal. At the end of 2011, Japan expressed interest in negotiating a free trade agreement with Burma. In March 2012, signs of the free trade agreement with Mongolia and Canada were announced.

In order to support EU-Japan trade relations, a number of informal bilateral dialogues and other specific initiatives have been put in place: “This pact is based on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which came into force in February 2019 and is the largest bilateral trade agreement in the EU,” said Dr Totis Kotsonis , an international business expert at Pinsent Masons, the back-law law firm. Domestic opposition to free trade agreements crystallized around the announcement of the Japanese government`s intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2011 and 2012, and Japanese farmers staged large demonstrations against the agreement to undermine food security that agricultural liberalization could have under the proposed agreement, particularly with regard to rice. Zenroren (National Confederation of Trade Unions) also opposes the agreement, raising concerns about job losses, the opening of the economy to AMERICAN capital and the erosion of living standards and working conditions. Many Japanese opponents see the TPP as a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States. Japan has notoriously joined late on the “bilateral train.” Until the late 1990s, the government secured most of its bets on multilateral negotiations in order to open foreign markets to the interests of Japanese companies. However, Japan is increasingly suffering from the loss of market share in free trade agreements between other countries. As a result of NAFTA, for example, Japan felt an urgent need for its own contract with Mexico to ensure that its products benefit from the same tariffs on the Mexican market as those in the United States. Traditional trade relations between the EU and Japan were once characterized by large trade surpluses in favour of Japan. Japan already exports about $11 billion ($14 billion) worth of goods to the UK, mainly cars, spare parts and other machinery. The company imports nearly $7 billion ($9.5 billion) worth of goods from the UK, including medicines, medical devices and cars, and Japanese companies for small Japanese will also find information on exporting to the EU 1.

“The agreement is likely to provide a launching pad for the development of the UK`s relations with Japan, including in the areas of defence and security. The fact that the Pacific region is expected to stimulate global economic growth in the coming years is