EU and Japan sign sweeping trade agreement
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EU and Japan sign sweeping trade agreement

The EU and Japan signed a trade deal known as the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) [text, PDF] Tuesday that eliminates almost all tariffs on products traded between them.

The agreement was finalized in December and agreed upon at the EU-Japan summit held in Tokyo this week.

According to an EU statement [press release] the EPA, which the EU called a “landmark moment for trade and cooperation,” is the biggest ever negotiated by the EU and will create an open trade zone covering more than 600 million people.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, said in a joint statement [press release, PDF]:

In giving full effect to this agreement, the EU and Japan are sending a powerful message to promote free, fair and rules-based trade, and against protectionism. The Economic Partnership Agreement demonstrates to the world the firm political will of the EU and Japan to keep the flag of free trade waving high and powerfully advance free trade. … We underline the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core and continue to fight protectionism.

The statement refers to protectionism and references specific trade policies imposed by US President Donald Trump. Trump has hiked tariffs on imports from many former US partners, including China, and specific imports, such as steel and aluminum [JURIST reports].