Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, September 11, 2020, 4:23 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held a video teleconference talk with U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Truss earlier today from 4 p.m. We reached an agreement in principle on the Japan-U.K. Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Following the TPP11, the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement, Japan has led the promotion of a free and fair trade system and achieved this result. Japan and the United Kingdom began the negotiations on June 9. I visited the United Kingdom at the beginning of August, and Secretary of State for International Trade Truss and I agreed on most of the fields and shared recognition of the major points in question. As a result of the final discussions held after that, although these were extremely tough negotiations, we have reached an agreement in principle at the exceptional speed of about three months. We aim for the agreement to enter into force on January 1, 2021 after we conduct the final work on the agreement based on today’s agreement in principle, conduct the signing, and receive approval from the Diet for the agreement. Through this, I believe it will be possible to continue the benefits received by Japan under the Japan-EU EPA and ensure the continuity of business of Japanese companies in the United Kingdom. In addition, we agreed on more advanced, high-level rules than the Japan-EU EPA, including on e-commerce, so it is expected that this will lead to further promotion of trade and investment between Japan and the United Kingdom. I reconfirmed and re-coordinated the agreement content earlier with Secretary of State for International Trade Truss. To explain it simply, in terms of market access, together with maintaining Japan’s high-level access to the U.K. market from under the Japan-EU EPA, we will realize improvement of access to the U.K. market for some products, such as train cars and automobile parts. For mineral and industrial products as well as agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, we will catch up to the same tariff rates as the Japan-EU EPA. Regarding consultations on rules of origin, we have adopted the EU extended cumulation, so it will be possible for Japanese manufacturers to export products, which are made of parts supplied from the EU, to the United Kingdom with the usual preferential tariffs. Regarding agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, we agreed to use the scope of the Japan-EU EPA. Specifically, a new tariff rate quota framework will not be set for the United Kingdom for the 25 items that are subject to tariff rate quotas under the Japan-EU EPA. In addition, in regard to tariffs set by the United Kingdom, we agreed to continue the content from the Japan-EU EPA that eliminates tariffs on major products of interest for export, including beef, tea, and marine products. Tariffs set by the United Kingdom means tariffs on Japanese products exported to the United Kingdom. In terms of rules, more advanced, high-level rules than the Japan-EU EPA were newly stipulated in fields such as e-commerce, financial services, competition policies, and gender. In particular, in regard to e-commerce which both Japan and the United Kingdom have a strong interest in, more high-level stipulations than the Japan-EU EPA will be adopted such as prohibition of restrictions on cross-border transfer of information, prohibition of demands to install computer-related equipment, the addition of algorithms as being subject to the prohibition on demands to disclose source code, and prohibition of demands to disclose encryption information. Due to the agreement in principle today, we will diligently advance work such as coordination of the text and legal scrubbing. That is all from me.
Reporter: Did you touch on a schedule for when the agreement will be signed during your meeting today with Secretary of State for International Trade Truss? Or do you have an outlook for this?
Minister MOTEGI: During my meeting today, we did not discuss what specific day or roughly when the agreement would be signed. As I stated before, we must accelerate work such as coordination of the agreement draft and legal scrubbing. I would like to sign the agreement after this work is completed as soon as possible.