The European Parliament on Wednesday approved an agreement with Japan, described as the world’s largest trade agreement covering economies representing one-third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The agreement will enter into force in February and was seen as a victory for Europe as a champion of free trade in the face of US President Donald Trump’s protectionism and Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
“Our economic partnership with Japan – the largest trade area to be negotiated – is very close to becoming reality, ” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom said.
The parliament voted 474 to 152 in favor.
“We are showing that we prefer open and organized trade, ” said Malstrom
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement covers 630 million people, and economies account for about a third of world production. It has been under discussion since 2013.
When it comes into force, the agreement will regulate almost all trade between the giant Asian country and EU countries, and will benefit European farmers in particular, Malstrom said.
When the agreement is fully implemented, about 85% of the EU’s agricultural products will be duty-free for export to Japan, while the remaining products will be reduced.
In return, the Japanese will have free access to the European car market after a transitional period of several years.