The agreement reached in principle between the European Union and Japan on trade July 5 is significant not only for both sides to the agreement but also for the development of world trade. It is furthermore a well justified rebuke to U.S. protectionism as advocated by President Donald Trump, whose ignorance of economics and prejudices pose long-term threats to U.S. interests.

The agreement was reached by the EU acting together to represent the interests of the 28 member-states. The British may hope that once Brexit is "achieved" Britain can quickly reach an agreement with Japan similar to that between the EU and Japan. Perhaps Japan will concede this in the interest of Japanese investments in Britain, but I would be surprised if it were achieved without some hard bargaining. We should be wise not to underestimate Japanese expertise (legal, linguistic and product specific) as well as toughness in negotiations. The British department of international trade under Liam Fox, its Cabinet minister, lacks experienced negotiators with Japanese expertise.

Sadly the present weak British government, under an obstinate prime minister attached firmly to her "red lines," seems stuck in a groove that could lead to serious damage to British interests.