The United Kingdom is very keep to complete a trade agreement with Japan within this year, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. For this purpose, the UK wants to start negotiations on trade with Japan within the next few weeks, Raab said after his meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi. The Japanese minister has asked the UK to cancel the European Union food import restrictions that had been imposed on Japanese food exports soon after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
“The aspiration will be to do it by the end of the year. We can certainly begin it earlier than Spring,” Raab told the media in an interview. “Japan is right up there in the list of priorities partly because of the size of the market, but also Japan is an absolute central country in the Indo Pacific region,” he added.
This is the first foreign trip of the UK Foreign Secretary after the setting of Brexit on January 31 this year. It has been reported that in the meeting, Raab’s Japanese counterpart Motegi had also said that Japan too wanted trade talks with the UK to come to an end quickly. Raab is currently on a trip to multiple Asian countries as he seeks to explore opportunities to develop trade deals with various Asian countries. The UK is set to start negotiations with the EU while it also plans to simultaneously hold trade negotiations with other countries including the United States and Japan.
As long as the UK was in the EU, it was following the comprehensive trade deal that Brussels had with Japan. Under that trade agreement, starting last year, the EU had started to bring down tariffs on a wide range of products including cars and other vehicles exported from Japan. The UK was also under the same tariff regimen. However after the completion of Brexit in about 11 months, UK will no longer be bound by the trade deal of the EU with other countries. It will then have two ways of trading with other countries – striking up trade agreements with partners or following the WTO tariff regimen.
Therefore the UK is keen to strike deals with different countries – particularly its major trading partners. A quick trade agreement with Japan could in fact be advantageous for Tokyo say analysts because it is trying to ensure good trade terms with London.
Raab has been requested to lift import restrictions on Japanese food and other products that were imposed by the EU since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, Motegi said.
Last year, some of those regulations had been eased by the EU. However Brussels still wants to conduct inspections and certification of origin for some Japanese produce which includes food products.
“Obviously anything that affects food, health and safety standards we would want to look at very carefully. We understand the Japanese concern about this and it will be science led,” Raab told the media when asked whether the Britain would agree to Motegi’s request.
(Adapted from HindustanTimes.com)