On 6 July 2017, the European Commission announced that the European Union and Japan have reached an agreement in principle on the main elements of an Economic Partnership Agreement. The announcement said:
This will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU and as such will for the first time include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
For the EU and its Member States, the Economic Partnership Agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies, which sum up to €1 billion annually, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports and increase opportunities in a range of sectors. It sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, fully safeguards public services and has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. It also builds on and reinforces the high standards for the protection of personal data that both, the EU and Japan, have recently entrenched in their data protection laws.
The Economic Partnership Agreement will increase EU exports and create new opportunities for European companies, big and small, their employees and consumers.
The value of exports from the EU could increase by as much as €20 billion, meaning more possibilities and jobs in many EU sectors such as agriculture and food products, leather, clothing and shoes, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others.
In 2013 EU governments instructed the European Commission to start negotiations with Japan. The EU is also negotiating a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Japan in parallel. Negotiators from both sides will continue their work to resolve all the remaining technical issues and conclude a final text of the agreement by the end of the year.