The free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan comes into force on Friday, giving birth to the largest bilateral trade agreement ever.
This text, negotiated since 2013, concerns more than 630 million people and nearly a third of global GDP.
It covers almost all trade between the European area and Tokyo and should in particular benefit, according to the EU, European agriculture.
“Europe and Japan send a message to the world on the future of open and fair trade”, welcomed the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, at a time when multilateralism is more than ever challenged by the United States.
Ultimately, 85% of EU agri-food products, such as wine, will be able to enter Japan without tariffs, but sometimes after transitional periods.
Rice, a highly symbolic product for the Japanese, is however excluded from the agreement.
Tokyo is also committed to recognizing more than 200 geographical indications such as Roquefort, Austrian Tiroler Speck, Belgian Ardennes Ham or Polska Wódka (Polish vodka).
Negotiations have been particularly complex on dairy products, but the agreement will eliminate very high tariffs on several cheeses, with a transition period of up to 15 years.
The Japanese, for their part, have free access to the European market for their car industry, but only after a transitional period of seven years.
This agreement will also include a chapter on sustainable development and an explicit reference to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
But these provisions were not enough to convince NGOs, who constantly question Brussels’ commercial policy, especially in the environmental field.
French President Pierre Gattaz, chairman of the European employers’ organization BusinessEurope, welcomed the entry into force of the agreement, which he says is “an opportunity to set standards in new product areas and to converge the rules of world trade around a high level of ambition “.