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The announcement of the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) on 6 July 2017 was timed perfectly: the day before the G20 summit in Hamburg. At a time of growing concern about economic integration and US unilateralism, JEEPA signals that complex trade agreements are still possible, that they can be done without the United States and that China is not the only active player in shaping Asian trade.

But the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) needs to be more than just a trade deal. Expanding digital markets and increasingly difficult investor relations in Asia need new frameworks, and JEEPA should lead this charge.

Negotiations had to address contentious issues such as trading ‘cars for cheese’ between the world’s most competitive automobile producer and the EU’s heavily regulated dairy markets, a remarkable achievement in itself. But the economic impact of the agreement will be limited to about 0.1 per cent of additional GDP for the EU and 0.2 per cent for Japan. The most direct impact will be felt in some heavily regulated sectors like pharmaceuticals and food as well as between competitors in machinery and electronics.

Before JEEPA, Japan was a staunch supporter of multilateral trade agreements, but was slow to adopt bilateral negotiations. Japan faces a ‘noodle bowl’ of bilateral and regional agreements in Asia, which are hard to negotiate comprehensively, in conjunction with an increasingly assertive United States and rising China that want to extract concessions when negotiating bilaterally.

In Japan, exports make up just 16 per cent of GDP, so often local industries and services dominate the political agenda rather than exporters’ interests, which makes it difficult to strike deals on deregulation even if the long-term gains seem obvious. Read more

The announcement of the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) on 6 July 2017 was timed perfectly: the day before the G20 summit in Hamburg. At a time of growing concern about economic integration and US unilateralism, JEEPA signals that complex trade agreements are still possible, that they can be done without the United States and that China is not the only active player in shaping Asian trade.

But the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) needs to be more than just a trade deal. Expanding digital markets and increasingly difficult investor relations in Asia need new frameworks, and JEEPA should lead this charge.

Negotiations had to address contentious issues such as trading ‘cars for cheese’ between the world’s most competitive automobile producer and the EU’s heavily regulated dairy markets, a remarkable achievement in itself. But the economic impact of the agreement will be limited to about 0.1 per cent of additional GDP for the EU and 0.2 per cent for Japan. The most direct impact will be felt in some heavily regulated sectors like pharmaceuticals and food as well as between competitors in machinery and electronics.

Before JEEPA, Japan was a staunch supporter of multilateral trade agreements, but was slow to adopt bilateral negotiations. Japan faces a ‘noodle bowl’ of bilateral and regional agreements in Asia, which are hard to negotiate comprehensively, in conjunction with an increasingly assertive United States and rising China that want to extract concessions when negotiating bilaterally.

In Japan, exports make up just 16 per cent of GDP, so often local industries and services dominate the political agenda rather than exporters’ interests, which makes it difficult to strike deals on deregulation even if the long-term gains seem obvious.