can stand alone on the global stage, as talks on a pact with the European
Union remain bogged down.
London said the pact, which was agreed after just a few months of talks
over the summer, would boost business between the two by œ15.2 billion ($19.5
billion) and proved others could be signed elsewhere.
The deal comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pursues his “Global Britain”
strategy that seeks potentially more advantageous trade deals than those that
were negotiated while it was an EU member.
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement covers sectors
including food, textiles and technology and largely replicates the existing
EU-Japan arrangement, which will no longer apply to Britain at the end of
It is due to take effect on January 1 — the end of a transition period in
which London and Brussels are trying to thrash out the terms of their own new
British-Japanese trade was worth around œ30 billion last year, while
Britain’s imports and exports to the European Union, its biggest trading
partner, totalled $670 billion.
After the signing ceremony in Tokyo, Britain’s International Trade Minister
Liz Truss said: “It used to be said that an independent UK would not be able
to strike independent trade deals, or they would take years to conclude. But
today we prove the naysayers wrong.”
Truss also said the deal “paves the way” for Britain to join the
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between
11 countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam and Australia.
But joining is likely to be a complex manoeuvre that will take years.
Long-running post-Brexit talks with the EU resumed Thursday after Britain
ended a week of threats to abandon them.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London vowing to work around
the clock to salvage a trade deal and avert potential economic chaos at the
end of the year — although key sticking points still remain.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday highlighted the
importance of a smooth end to the Brexit transition period, especially for
Japanese businesses that see the UK as a “gateway to continental Europe”.
“It is of paramount importance that the supply chains between the UK and EU
are maintained even after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Japan has high
hopes that an agreement is reached soon,” he said.
Britain formally left the EU in January, following a seismic referendum in
2016 that saw voters opt to end five decades of European integration.