The European Union and Japan have put pen to paper on a free trade agreement finalized last year after the Japanese Cabinet voted to sign the deal. Japanese and EU officials signed off on the agreement Tuesday in Tokyo. The agreement will “remove the vast majority” of duties paid by EU companies exporting to Japan – including those sending wine and cheese – according to a European Commission press release. The EU will boost its beef exports under the deal and pork will experience “duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat.” Japan also agreed to protections for more than 200 European geographical indicators in exchange for a selection of Japanese GIs in the EU. The Trump administration has asked Japan repeatedly to enter into talks for a bilateral trade pact, but the Asian powerhouse has rebuffed the proposal, hoping instead the U.S. would rejoin the TPP, which was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan had agreed under the trade deal to slash tariffs on U.S. beef that stand at 38.5 percent, making it hard to compete with Australia, which only has to deal with an import tax of 27 percent. “In giving full effect to this agreement, the EU and Japan are sending a powerful message to promote free, fair and rules-based trade, and against protectionism,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and EU leaders said in a joint statement yesterday.
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