Diet approves trade deal with EU

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press)

The Diet on Saturday approved an economic partnership agreement with the European Union, which will create a free trade bloc accounting for 30 percent of world output.

The House of Councillors passed the pact by a majority vote at a plenary session, with support mainly from the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. The House of Representatives gave its approval late last month.

Japan is expected to finish the necessary procedures, including amending governmental and ministerial ordinances, by the end of this year.

With the European Parliament slated to ratify the trade agreement by year-end, the EPA is seen coming into effect on Feb. 1, 2019.

This will follow the effectuation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement among 11 nations, including Japan and Australia, slated for Dec. 30 this year.

The Japanese government hopes to demonstrate the superiority of multilateral free trade regimes over bilateral ones before it kicks off bilateral trade talks with the United States next year, officials said.

Under the EPA, tariffs will be removed for over 90 percent of trade items between Japan and Europe.

Tariffs will decline for a wide range of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, including European cheese, wine and pork, allowing Japanese consumers to enjoy such goods at lower prices.

Japanese manufacturers will see greater opportunities to expand their exports to the EU, because tariffs will be removed on Japanese industrial products, including automobiles and car parts.

In Diet deliberations, opposition parties expressed concerns about negative effects on the dairy sector from an influx of European products, including cheese.

The government and the ruling bloc promised to work on measures to bolster the competitiveness of the domestic agricultural sector, including support for dairy farmers.Speech

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