Business

Cabinet sends Japan-EU free trade pact to the Diet

Kyodo

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to ratify a massive free trade agreement with the European Union.

The Abe administration hopes to gain Diet approval during the current extraordinary session through Dec. 10 to complete domestic procedures by the end of the year.

If the EU also finishes its ratification process this year, the trade pact, covering about a third of the world’s economy, will take effect as early as Feb. 1.

After more than five years of negotiations, the two parties signed the tariff-cutting pact in July.

As Japan will eliminate duties on around 94 percent of all imports from the EU by 2035, Japanese households will have access to cheaper European cheese, pork and wine. The EU will get rid of tariffs in stages on around 99 percent of imports from Japan, such as cars.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a revised version of a 12-member agreement from which the United States withdrew, meanwhile is set to enter into force Dec. 30 following the completion of domestic steps by six countries, including Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said Tokyo will continue to hold up the flag of free trade. Both Japan and the European Union are bracing for the start early next year of their respective trade negotiations with the United States as President Donald Trump pushes to correct what he sees as imbalanced trade.