The Japanese and British governments are planning to hold a videoconference for minister-level trade talks as early as Friday, informed sources said.
Aiming to reach a broad accord on their proposed trade agreement by the end of August, the two sides hope to have last-minute negotiations on Japanese tariffs on British blue cheese, the last remaining key issue.
If the trade agreement is struck, it would be United Kingdom’s first trade deal since its exit from the European Union at the end of January.
The videoconference will be attended by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and the U.K.’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss.
The two had a ministerial meeting in London on Aug. 6 and 7. Following the meeting, Motegi said they effectively agreed on most areas of the trade negotiations.
Motegi is set to return from a trip to Southeast Asia on Tuesday, while the U.K. will have a national holiday Monday. Considering these, the two countries are arranging the next ministerial talks for later this week.
On a working level, the two sides are in the middle of negotiations regarding the blue cheese tariffs.
The two governments may still push back the ministerial talks or fail to reach a broad agreement by the end of this month, depending on the outcome of the working-level talks.
There is no definitive deadline for the trade negotiations, a British government official said, adding that the U.K. will only agree to a deal that will benefit the nation.
The two countries hope to reach a formal agreement and sign a bilateral trade deal in September if they broadly agree on the deal this month.
They would then start procedures to seek parliamentary approvals in order to put the trade deal into force on Jan. 1, 2021, the date the U.K. is slated to complete its post-Brexit transition period.
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