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The UK has agreed its first major post-Brexit trade deal after securing an agreement with Japan which both sides hope will significantly boost trade between the two countries.
Liz Truss, the UK trade secretary, hailed a “historic moment” on Friday after speaking with Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister.
The UK’s trade department said in a statement that the deal had been agreed “in principle,” and comes as Boris Johnson’s government struggles to agree on the terms of a trade deal with the EU.
Truss said the agreement with Japan went “far beyond” the trade deal between the EU and Japan — to which the UK was a signatory as an EU member.
“The agreement we have negotiated – in record time and in challenging circumstances – goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries.
“From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the north of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country.”
The total value of trade between the UK and Japan last year was £31.6 billion, according to British government figures. The trade department said it expected the deal to boost trade by £12.5 billion.
Boris Johnson’s political opponents, however, say that such deals are unlikely to replace the value of lost trade if Britain leaves the EU with no trade agreement in place.
The total value of trade between the UK and EU in 2019 was £673 billion pounds in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics, which was cited by Reuters.
The prospect of such an outcome appeared to increase dramatically this week when the British government confirmed its plan to break international law by changing parts of the Withdrawal Agreement it signed last year.
The EU has threatened to retaliate by suing the UK if it does not comply with its legal obligations.
Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, welcomed the Japan deal and said the government should now focus on securing further continuity deals with countries including Canada and Turkey, as well as the EU itself.
“This is an important step both for continuity and for the UK striking out on its own,” Renison said in a statement.
“Directors will be delighted to see that in some areas the UK and Japan have delivered even further liberalisation and look forward to seeing the detail of the final trade deal once it has been concluded.
“We hope the spirit of both ambition and compromise will help land further continuity deals such as with Turkey and Canada, as well as an agreement with the EU, which is of utmost importance to IoD members.”
The UK has prioritised further trade talks with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
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Source:: Business Insider