UK secures free trade agreement with Japan - first major deal since Brexit

11 September 2020, 10:07

Liz Truss agreed the deal in principle on Friday morning
Liz Truss agreed the deal in principle on Friday morning. Picture: PA

The UK has secured a free trade agreement with Japan, the first major deal of its kind landed since Brexit, the government has announced.

It is hoped the deal, which was agreed in principle on Friday, will boost British and Japanese trade by £15.2bn, and bring an extra £1.5bn to the economy along with a further £800 million for wages in the long run.

Named the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the government said it would also mark an important step toward eventually joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It comes as a trade deal between the UK and the EU hangs in the balance following emergency talks in London on Thursday.

READ MORE: Michael Gove: Government 'could not and would not' withdraw Internal Market Bill

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the government "could not and would not" reverse a Bill tabled in parliament earlier this week that overrides key elements of the agreement with Brussels.

In response, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic accused the UK of an "extremely serious violation" of international law.

The sides now have until 15 October to reach an agreement as this is the date Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will simply walk away from the negotiating table.

The new deal with Japan, however, has been tipped by government as going further than the EU's current deal with the nation.

Listing some of the agreements, the Department for International Trade said manufacturers, food and drink producers, and the tech sector would particularly find benefit.

It cited "cutting-edge" digital and data provisions, improved market access for UK financial services, a tariff-free access for British good, making it easier to reach the market in Japan.

Further protections will also be placed on iconic goods.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the deal was "a historic moment" for both countries, adding that it "goes far beyond" the current EU deal.

She added: "From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the North of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country.

"Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing Britain at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies."

READ MORE: UK told 'no chance' of trade deal with US if Northern Ireland peace process 'imperilled'

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, welcomed the new partnership as a "breakthrough" moment, urging government and business to work together to "make the most" of it.

She said: "Business will help support the government in its efforts to secure more trade deals around the world and promote their benefits to communities. The Japan deal can be the first of many."