The European Parliament’s Trade Committee gave its recommendation to approve the EU’s landmark trade agreement with Japan.
The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan will eventually remove almost all tariffs on goods. The baking and confectionery industry will also benefit, as in 2017, the EU exported to Japan EUR187m of pasta, biscuits, and bread and EUR198m of chocolate, confectionery and ice cream products.
Trade Committee MEPs emphasized that the agreement “represents a timely signal in support of open, fair, values-based and rules-based trade, while promoting high standards, at a time of serious protectionist challenges to the international order”.
Trade Committee MEPs nevertheless stressed that Japan must ratify all relevant labor codes set by the International Labor Organization.
The committee also urges the Commission to set up contact points for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which figure for the first time in a dedicated chapter in an EU trade deal, so that they can quickly benefit from the agreement. 78% of EU companies exporting to Japan are SMEs.
“Today’s positive vote on the agreement sends a strong signal for fair trade based on rules and values. Our resolution calls on both parties to deliver on their commitments and make the most of the progressive potential of the agreement, ensuring compliance with labor and environmental rules and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, PT), the rapporteur in charge of the topic.
The EU agri-food chain partners sustaining the European farmers’ interest – COPA and COGECA, CELCAA and FoodDrinkEurope – welcomed the positive vote on the EPA.
“Japan is among the strategic export destinations for EU agri-food products, with further potential for growth. The elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers agreed with Japan, the protection of European geographical indications (GIs), and future cooperation on agriculture and food-related matters will create new opportunities and help to better respond to changing consumer demands in each other’s economies. The agreement will also enhance the sector’s competitiveness in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. Last but not least, the opportunities of the EU-Japan EPA should also be recognized in the broader economic context and considered as an important signal to promote rules-based international trade,” according to a press release.