The United Kingdom and Japan are seeking to forge a free trade agreement in six weeks in order to get it passed during the current parliament in Japan.
Set to be one of the fastest-signed deals in trading history, the two parties are aiming for a conclusion by the end of July, two weeks after talks were launched.
This would also be the first bilateral trade deal the UK has signed for some 40 years, since becoming a member of the European Union.
“To avoid a gap in January, we must pass this in the autumn session of the Diet [the Japanese parliament],” Tokyo’s chief trade negotiator Hiroshi Matsuura told the Financial Times. “That means we must complete negotiations by the end of July.”
“The shortage of time means that both sides will have to limit their ambitions,” Mr Matsuura added, suggesting that the UK will initially seek to agree on a more basic deal.
While the deadline is fast approaching, the “mini-deal” between the United States and Japan ratified in 2019 took only six months to agree; the UK-Japan deal is also expected to mirror the trade deal that Tokyo signed with Brussels, signalling much of the groundwork has already been done.
The UK wants to seek commitments on the access of the British services market and a reduction or elimination on tariffs on goods and agriculture products; though, given the timeframe, sources speaking to the financial newspaper said that services might take priority for this deal.
Out of the EU and into the World: UK Opens Trade Talks with Japan https://t.co/FO2ogTAkIq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 10, 2020
Japan has increased efforts to get a deal agreed on in six weeks, putting its most experienced negotiators in charge, with virtual talks taking place daily.
Mr Matsuura told the FT: “We are doing this deal differently to the usual style. Instead of rounds of talks, we are negotiating every single day.”
Austalia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Brandis said that an Aussie-UK deal could be signed in a matter of months, not years, after the British government announced it had launched negotiations with Australia and her antipodean neighbour New Zealand last week.
The UK also began talks in May with the United States. Chairman of the conservative Bow Group, Ben Harris-Quinney, told Breitbart London at the time that an Anglo-American deal should take “absolute priority”.
Progress on a Japanese deal would be useful leverage in current trade talks with the European Union, which has so far maintained a hardline approach, particularly with regards to regulatory alignment.
Reports from this week claim that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to speed up Brussels agreeing on a deal by proposing an agreement on condition that if the UK deviates from Brussels regulations, the country will accept tariffs.
Closer Together than Ever Before: Aussie-UK Deal Could Be Signed ‘Soon’ https://t.co/NZkgxZ8sLv
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 17, 2020