UK-Japan make headway but fail to agree trade deal

British trade minister Liz Truss attends a joint video conference with Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi at the Department for International Trade, in London June 9, 2020. ― Handout via Reuters
British trade minister Liz Truss attends a joint video conference with Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi at the Department for International Trade, in London June 9, 2020. ― Handout via Reuters

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LONDON, Aug 8 — Britain and Japan yesterday reached agreement on “major elements” of a post-Brexit trade deal but failed to wrap up negotiations as foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi ended his three-day trip to London.

The two parties reached agreement in areas such as digital, data and financial services, with British media reporting that some aspects of the agriculture sector were still up for debate. 

“Negotiations have been positive and productive, and we have reached consensus on the major elements of a deal,” said British trade minister Liz Truss in a statement.

“Our shared aim is to reach a formal agreement in principle by the end of August.”

Motegi told reporters that “we substantially agreed” on most issues and that the partnership will include investment services and e-commerce.

“The Japan-UK economic partnership will further expand investment in trade between the two countries,” he added.

It was Motegi’s first face-to-face meeting with Truss since they kicked off the trade negotiations via videoconference on June 9.

Bilateral trade is currently conducted under a broad EU-Japan deal that came into effect last year, but the agreement will no longer apply to Britain from December 31.

Britain left the European Union in January but agreed a standstill transition until the end of the year — and is racing to strike both replica and new trade agreements before that date.

London remains locked in talks with Brussels and the United States, but hopes that the Japanese deal will be struck quickly.

“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that will enter into force by the end of 2020 if at all possible,” a British ministry spokesman said earlier this week.

UK-Japanese trade was worth more than £30 billion (RM164 billion) last year, according to the British government. — AFP

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