UK’s future trading relationship with Japan: Agreement in principle signed today

The UK government has today reached agreement in principle for a free trade deal with Japan, an important market for British luxury brands, and a key stepping stone in the government’s post-Brexit trade strategy.

Through its strong relationship with the Department of International Trade, Walpole has been representing the needs and views of its members into government since negotiations began, and most recently as part of the new Trade Advisory Groups to which Walpole’s Chief Executive Helen Brocklebank was appointed earlier in the Summer.

The trade agreement will underpin the UK’s trading relationship with the world’s third largest economy for years to come and secures the benefits of the existing EU deal, as well as going further in areas like digital, data, financial services and intellectual property. For high-end consumer goods like shoes and clothing where there are tariffs and quotas, the deal will ‘inherit the clock’ from the EU/Japan Trade Agreement which came into effect in July 2018. There are also new protections for iconic UK goods – Walpole is particularly pleased that the Geographical Indications (GI’s) now include English Sparkling Wine which will lead to improved recognition of growing UK luxury wine brands like Chapel Down in the Japanese market. The new protections on IP are also to be welcomed: the agreement goes beyond the EU on provisions that tackle online infringement of IP rights, so British businesses can be confident that their brands and innovations will be protected.

In addition, there is improved mobility for business people, securing more flexibility for Japanese and British companies to move talent into each country.

The agreement in principle also marks a strategically vital step towards the UK’s joining CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). This will give UK businesses a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region and help to increase the resilience of the UK’s supply chains.

Walpole will be joining a call with the Department of International Trade for a more detailed update later this afternoon.