Trade MEPs in Japan to evaluate EU-Japan economic agreement 

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European Parliament INTA committee delegation holds talks in Japan on 18-20 September 2018, prior to taking its final stand on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan.

The trade agreement will eventually remove almost all tariffs on goods, opens up services and public procurement markets, and creates common rules for bilateral trade.

The 7-member delegation, led by trade committee Chairman Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) and including Rapporteur Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, Portugal), is expected to meet, among others, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tarō Kōno, Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko, Labour Minister Katsunobu Kato, as well as the vice minister for transport, a special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the state minister of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, and various trade union, business, and consumer organisations. The delegation will also hold talks in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Japanese Parliament (House of Representatives), in charge of the ratification and scrutiny of the agreement in Japan.

The members of the delegation are:

  • Bernd Lange, (S&D, DE), committee chair
  • Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, PT), standing rapporteur
  • Adam Szejnfeld (EPP, PL)
  • Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU)
  • David Martin (S&D, UK)
  • Maria Arena (S&D, BE)
  • Nadja Hirsch (ALDE, DE)

The main goal of the delegation is to discuss various aspects of the trade deal, including measures to help exports by small and medium sized enterprises, combatting trade of illegally logged timber, and the prospects for Japan’s ratification of International Labour Organization conventions on forced labour and employment discrimination. The MEPs are also expected to urge Japan to put in place mechanisms to rapidly and efficiently implement the agreement once it enters into force.

The delegation will hold a press point on Thursday, 20 September, at 10:30 at the Delegation of the EU to Japan (4-6-28 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku) with English-Japan interpretation. Media representatives interested in attending the briefing should inform Mari Koseki by noon on 19 September Tokyo time.

The trade committee recently discussed the agreement.


"The European Parliament has always championed a trading order which is not only free, but fair and to the benefit of citizens. These are the values by which we judge the deal between the EU and Japan. Discussing its economic and geopolitical impact with the Japanese Parliament, government, business, consumers, trade unions and civil cociety is cruically important to be able to gauge its real benefit,” said trade committee chair Lange.

“The European Parliament will have the final say on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. Commitments to sustainable development and a rules-based trade are very important for the Parliament and we want to be sure that this agreement serves the interests of both citizens and businesses. This mission of the trade committee to Tokyo is a timely opportunity to hear the views of various Japanese interested parties,” said rapporteur Silva Pereira.

Next steps

The European Parliament, which has monitored closely the negotiations since their start and expressed its expectations in a resolution in 2012, has to give its consent before the deal can enter into force. First, the trade committee is to discuss the rapporteur’s draft recommendations and accompanying resolution on the Economic Partnership Agreement on 27 September. The votes in committee on both documents are scheduled for 5 November. The European Parliament is expected to vote on whether to consent to the agreement in December.

About the agreement

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, signed on 17 July 2018, creates a trade zone of 600 million people and covers a third of global GDP. It will eventually remove almost all customs duties worth roughly €1 billion annually on European products and services exported to Japan. It also opens up the Japanese market, reduces barriers to trade, provides channels for regulatory cooperation while it guarantees European standards. The deal represents a strong stance against protectionism and for a rules-based, fair world trade.

In addition to the trade deal, the EU and Japan also signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement, which extends cooperation to areas such as energy, education, research and development, development, and fight against climate change and terrorism.