EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk today signed the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The free trade agreement is to cover one third of the world’s GDP and apply to around 600 million people.

Federal Minister Altmaier said: “I am glad that the EU and Japan signed their Economic Partnership Agreement today, thereby positively shaping globalisation for the people. For example, the agreement imposes high standards in terms of sustainable trade. At the same time, our companies are getting better market access conditions. We are sending out an important signal for free and fair trade in this modern free trade agreement, and fighting back against increasing protectionist tendencies around the world.”

The free trade agreement between the EU and Japan falls under the exclusive competence of the EU (an “EU-only agreement”). Public services continue to be protected against privatisation, and it remains possible to return public services to municipal ownership. Now that the agreement has been signed, it requires the approval of the European Parliament. The aim is to have the agreement enter into force by 2019 at the latest.

Japan is the EU’s second most important trading partner in Asia. The volume of trade between the EU and Japan amounted to €129.1 billion in 2017. Germany exported goods worth approximately €19.5 billion to Japan in 2017. In the other direction, Germany imported goods worth €22.9 billion.