UK and Japan rush to secure trade deal: what is in it?

After weeks of high-speed online negotiations, the UK and Japan are seeking to conclude a post-Brexit free trade deal before the end of the weekend.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss “will hail this as the first major trade deal signed by Britain since Brexit”, the Financial Times reports.

The negotiations, which began in June, “have taken place remotely at breakneck speed”, says The Times. “While the UK’s discussions with the US and EU have been taking place in rounds, talks with Japan have been constant”

What will it include?

The new agreement is largely based on Japan’s trade deal with the EU, “which created the world’s largest free trade zone when it came into effect last year”, says The Times.

Britain has benefited from the provisions of that agreement during the Brexit transition period, but that comes to an end on 31 December

“If Britain and the EU failed to secure a trade deal, it would mean Japanese companies based in the UK face tariffs for imported parts from continental Europe,” the Daily Express reports.

Flagship goods

One priority for negotiators has been to “formulate trade rules to protect famous products on either side, including Scotch and Kobe beef”, says The Brussels Times. The goal is to “prevent the sale of cheaper knock-off alternatives” and preserve national pride.


A more significant point of contention, says the Express, is “Tokyo’s demands for cuts in car export tariffs”.

“Japan would like to keep the same low export tariffs for cars and car parts it had with the EU,” the Brussels Times reports. “The UK, however, would like to install its own tariffs, which are higher.”


The UK also “seeks the inclusion of extensive commitments on digital trade”, says City AM.

British negotiators would like to see “the free flow of data between Japan and the UK with a view to supporting the development of emerging technologies such as blockchain, driverless cars, and quantum computing”, the website reports.

Security and defence

The negotiations “are not only about trade”, says the Financial Times. Japan has also been eager to “discuss bilateral cooperation on security and defence, as Tokyo eyes the ever-increasing regional ambitions of China”.

Financial services

Another big UK goal has been to expand on the EU-Japan trade deal’s “rather weak coverage of its vitally important services sector”, says City AM.

“But Japan has downplayed hopes for an ambitious trade deal with the UK,” the Express reports, “saying that the EU is a larger bloc and the UK is a smaller market.”

According to The Times, “Whitehall officials have conceded that the tight timeframe has curbed the ambition of the deal”.



Cabinet reshuffle: how do the Tory and Labour frontbenches match up?


Pros and cons of a windfall tax on oil and gas profits


Nuclear secrets found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago


Revealed: the expert advice Boris Johnson ignored as UK coronavirus cases spiralled