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The UK and Japan agree in principle on a free trade agreement

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the third day of the G7 Summit on August 26, 2019 in Biarritz, France.

Andrew Parsons – Swimming pool | Getty Images

LONDON – The UK and Japan agreed on a trade deal in principle on Friday, in a move that sees the UK reach its first major deal since Brexit.

The announcement, which the UK hailed as a “historic moment”

;, comes as Britain struggles to secure a deal with its closest trading partners in the European Union.

The UK Commerce Department said UK businesses would benefit from duty-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. He also suggested the deal would see the country increase trade with Japan by £ 15.2 billion ($ 19.5 billion).

The agreement will include digital provisions and data that go “well beyond” the EU-Japan agreement, Britain said, allowing for “free flow of data while maintaining high standards of personal data protection”.

The provisional agreement, which will require approval by both the British and Japanese parliaments, is expected to take effect at the end of the year.

“This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as our first major post-Brexit trade deal,” Liz Truss, the UK’s international trade secretary, said in a statement.

“Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and positioning Britain at the center of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies,” he said. Truss.

The pound was trading at $ 1.2770 during the mid-morning deals, about 0.25% lower for the session.

“Global Britain”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this year that Britain could become the Superman of global trade, concluding lucrative deals on its own terms after the country left the EU in January.

The proposed deal with Japan marks the first major deal for the world’s fifth largest economy after Brexit.

Carolyn Fairbairn, general manager of the Confederation of British Industry, described the agreement as a “turning point” that would be “welcomed by companies across the country”.

“Businesses will help support the government in its efforts to secure more trade deals around the world and promote their benefits to communities. The deal with Japan may be the first of many,” Fairbairn said.

However, critics of Johnson’s “global Britain” agenda suggest that free trade agreements with countries around the world are unlikely to make up for lost exports to the EU if it fails to reach a deal with Brussels.

The UK and the EU are currently at odds over the so-called UK Internal Market Bill. The bill, proposed earlier this week, seeks to change part of the country’s Brexit deal with the EU. If approved, it would allow ministers to amend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, which was negotiated last year.

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis, a government minister, has since admitted that the internal market law “infringes international law”.

In response, the UK’s opposition Labor Party condemned the proposal, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday she was “very concerned about the British government announcement”.

In the United States, Nancy Pelosi, House spokesperson and Democrat MP, said Wednesday that if the UK violates its international agreements, “there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade deal going through Congress.”

The UK and the EU are currently looking to reach a trade deal before the end of the transition period on 31 December, with the UK ready to move to World Trade Organization rules if no deal is reached.

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