On 23 October 2020, following the negotiations, Japan and the United Kingdom (UK) signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 11 September 2020. In her comments following the signing of the EPA, UK International Trade Minister Liz Truss MP spoke explicitly about the historic nature of the EPA, one of the first free trade agreements signed by the United Kingdom, which goes beyond the European Union (EU) agreement it replaces. The agreement appears, for two reasons, to create only limited economic value, which is in addition to “continuity.” Firstly, the free trade agreement between Japan and the United Kingdom alone cannot replicate the trilateral relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, which existed when the UK was part of the EU internal market and the common trade policy, and when Japanese and British companies engaged in chains of global value and supply chains in Europe , were very dependent. Recalling that the main concerns of Japanese companies operating in Europe are regulatory changes, tariffs and an end to the free movement of people between the EU and the UK (following the UK`s exit from the customs union and the internal market), the end of the smooth functioning of trade between the EU and the UK is seriously damaging the economy , even if the EU and the UK successfully reach a free trade agreement. The “Rules of Origin” chapter allows EU intermediate consumption for British and Japanese products to be considered “local” in either the UK or Japan in order to benefit from duty-free trade. This is an important outcome for companies whose supply chains cross the EU, Japan and the UK. Japan has also proposed to reduce paper requirements for access to preferential prices in relation to the EU-Japan agreement. Trade relations between the UK and Japan are currently governed by the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA). The UK will no longer be subject to the agreement when the transitional period for Brexit ends at the end of 2020. In the absence of a new agreement with Japan, trade between the United Kingdom and Japan would again be in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) conditions.
The obligations on standards, regulation and compliance assessment remain broadly the same as those of the EU-Japan agreement. The agreement is essentially in line with the Economic Partnership Agreement reached in February 2019 between the European Union and Japan.  Unlike the EU, which has in the past refused to engage in discussions on audiovisual services for cultural reasons, Japan and the United Kingdom have agreed to launch cooperation in the field of audiovisual services under the agreement. This is a change for the UK creative sector, which has generally been less involved in trade discussions. The ratification of the agreement is subject to paragraphs 20 to 25 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. This provides a legal period of 21 days for both parliaments to decide not to ratify the agreement. There is no need to vote legally on ratification. Although there are few obvious advantages to the UK over the EU-Japan EPA over the EU-Japan EPA, the conclusion of this agreement is a decisive step towards UK membership of the CPTPP, which would lead to access to 11 markets in Asia and along the Pacific, where the UK currently has limited access. All future accession negotiations are likely to take several years, but the conclusion of the EPA between the UK and Japan is an important first step and should improve the UK`s trade evidence among the other ten CPTP member states.
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