Leaders from the European Union and Japan formally signed a new free trade pact on Tuesday, the latest in a series of moves toward trade liberalization and a direct rebuke to US President Donald Trump's recent trade protectionism.
The deal signed in Tokyo by the EU's top officials and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe creates a free trade zone covering almost a third of the world's GDP.
EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker land in Japan after talks in Beijing, where they urged global trade cooperation and warned against trade wars.
It also provides a stark counterpoint to US President Donald Trump's aggressive "America First" protectionism, which has seen Washington impose trade tariffs on allies and rivals alike.
Tusk hailed the accord, saying, "This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based global order at a time when some are questioning this order".
At the press conference, Tusk echoed Abe's view, stressing the significance of signing the landmark agreement when the rule-based trading system is under threat.
Trump says he is taking a hard line on trade to protect US workers and USA companies, but critics say his approach is upending the rules of multilateral global trade. The partnership between the European Union and Japan is also being strengthened in other areas, the AP reports, such as climate change, defense, and anti-protectionism.
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Under the deal, Japan will remove duties on nearly all European Union agri-food products and recognise European Union geographical indicators. Following the signing ceremony, they will seek parliamentary ratification.
The European Union and Japan signed a trade pact that will remove EU tariffs of 10 percent on Japanese cars and 3 percent on most auto parts.
The price of European wine and pork will fall for consumers in Japan. "About 94 percent of the tariffs on European exports to Japan will be lifted, rising to 99 percent in the future". It will eliminate tariffs on Japan's mainstay products of automobiles in the eighth year and TVs in the sixth year following the pact's implementation.
The regional bloc will immediately eliminate tariffs on Japanese sake, green tea and soy sauce, while wine will also be reciprocally traded without tariffs right after the pact comes into force.
The signing was delayed from earlier this month because Abe cancelled going to Brussels over a disaster in south-western Japan caused by extremely heavy rainfall, with more than 200 people dying in floods and landslides.
On the security front, the three leaders agreed to work toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, Tusk said.
EU exports of processed food, including meat and dairy products, are expected to rise by up to 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) once the deal takes full effect and tariffs are gradually dropped, the European Commission says.