The European Commission and Japan have finalized a bilateral free trade agreement, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said Friday.
“This is actually the biggest trade deal we have ever negotiated,” Malmström said.
The deal will allow the bloc to sell food products including cheese, wines, and pork in Japan at reduced tariffs, granting Japanese carmakers easier access to the European market in exchange. Together, the EU and Japan account for about 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
The deal “sends a clear signal to the world that the EU and Japan are committed to keeping the world economy working on the basis of free, open and fair markets with clear and transparent rules fully respecting and enhancing our values, fighting the temptation of protectionism,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said in a joint statement.
Despite the announcement, the two sides have not reached an agreement on investment protection, which remains the outstanding obstacle to the deal, and talks will continue into the new year. Negotiators agreed to split investment protection from the rest of the deal to expedite negotiations.
“We agreed that we need a little bit more time to see how we can move on” the investment protection deal, Malsmtröm said.
The EU has insisted on applying the new Investment Court System to deal with grievances, while Japan prefers the previous mechanism known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement.