Trade deal blunder: Japan-UK talks could cause problems for post-Brexit deal

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The move puts immense pressure on the Prime Minister to come up with an agreement in such a short space of time. Tokyo’s chief negotiator, Hiroshi Matsuura, has said both sides will need to “limit their ambitions” due to the time period.

Speaking to, Professor Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe, said politically it is absolutely crucial the UK sign a trade deal.

He said: “The problem with doing everything so quickly is that the Japanese might just make loads of concessions.”

Professor Menon explained how the UK may have to be more flexible with their negotiations with Japan.

He said the danger with such speedy talks is Japan might say to the UK “you’re the people that are desperate for a deal so unless you make these concessions you’re not getting one.

“Again I think there are limits to how much you can negotiate in a short period of time but Japan is a major trading country.

“Making trade as easy as possible with them is clearly something we should be doing.”

Japan and the UK formally began negotiations on a free trade agreement in June with hopes to score a deal by the end of the year.

The UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, said in a statement: “We aim to strike a comprehensive free trade agreement that goes further than the deal previously agreed with the EU, setting ambitious standards in areas such as digital trade and services.

“This deal will provide more opportunities for businesses and individuals across every region and nation of the UK and help boost our economies following the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus.”

Japan is Britain’s fourth-largest non-EU member trading partner according to the Office for National Statistics.

Negotiations between the two sides aim to replace the existing agreement Britain has with Japan through the European Union.

But if a deal is not struck, the two countries will have to default to World Trade Organisation terms which would lead to tariffs and obstacles.

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According to UK government figures, in 2019 trade between the UK and Japan reached £31.4 billion.

The UK government figures also show that 9,500 UK-based businesses exported goods to Japan last year.

Professor Menon explained how trade deal talks will cover fewer issues if there is less time to negotiate.

He said: “Trade deals are hideously complex things because what they involve is not just changing your trading relationship with another country but therefore spillover effects to your domestic economy.

“If you agree to trash tariffs on a product say, it has impacts on your domestic producers and you need to do the leg work to figure out what the implications of those things are.

“No government wants to make fundamental changes to our economy without figuring out what the costs and benefits of that are.

“So the more you do in a trade deal, the longer in general it’s going to take because you have to sort of really consider what the implications of anything you choose to do are.”

The UK is hoping a trade agreement with Japan will help them in their aims to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 members including Australia, Japan, Canada and Chile.

Joining the CPTPP would dramatically improve access for UK businesses to markets in the Asia-Pacific area.

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