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EU, Japan reach agreement on free trade deal

The European Union and Japan have reached a political agreement in principle on a economic partnership agreement European Commission officials say “will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU.”

   The European Union and Japan reached a political agreement in principle on an economic partnership agreement and a strategic partnership agreement on Thursday in Brussels at the 24th summit between the EU and Japan.
   The European Commission said the economic partnership agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports, and increase EU exports and create new opportunities for European companies, their employees and consumers.
   “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,” the European Commission said.
   Negotiators from both sides will conclude a final text of the economic partnership agreement by the end of the year, after they work to resolve all remaining technical issues, the commission said.
   “For the businesses in the European Union, the economic partnership agreement will open up new possibilities in a market of 127 million people living in the fourth richest economy in the world,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after the summit at a press conference. “It has the potential to increase our exports to Japan by more than a third.”
   Meanwhile, the strategic partnership agreement will provide a legally binding framework for cooperation between the EU and Japan.
   The strategic partnership agreement covers bilateral issues, along with regional and global challenges, including climate change, security, disaster relief, science, technology and innovation, environment and energy.
   In addition, a memorandum of cooperation between the EU and Japan on liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been initiated and will be signed by Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and Hiroshige Seko, Japanese minister for economy, trade and Industry on Tuesday in Brussels.

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