European Council President Donald Tusk (C), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a joint press conference after the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 6, 2017. The European Union (EU) and Japanese leaders announced here on Thursday that they have concluded the political agreement on reaching an EU-Japan free trade deal. (Xinhua/Gong Bing)
BRUSSELS, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and Japanese leaders announced here on Thursday that they have concluded the political agreement on reaching an EU-Japan free trade deal.
"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Strategic Partnership between the EU and Japan as we celebrate the agreement in principle of the Economic Partnership Agreement(EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement at political level," read a joint statement by European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued following the 24th EU-Japan Summit.
The EU-Japan EPA will constitute the basis for a strategic partnership for free and fair trade.
"We tasked our respective negotiating teams with a rapid finalisation of the agreement that would allow for the internal procedures to start soon, both in the EU and in Japan," the statement said.
"We did it. We concluded EU-Japan political and trade talks. EU is more and more engaged globally. Global Europe!" Tusk said on Twitter.
Addressing a joint press conference after the summit, Tusk said in the context of the discussion about Brexit, "we have heard statements claiming that it isn't worth being in the European Union, as it is easier to do global trade outside of the EU. Today we have shown that this is not true."
Juncker told the same press conference that the EU had agreed in principle on a Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, which is "a powerful message to the world that we stand for open and fair trade."
"Together, we are sending a strong message to the world that we stand for open and fair trade. As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism. Only by working together will we be able to set ambitious global standards," Juncker said, adding that this will be the message the EU and Japan will bring together to the G20 the next day.
Japan is the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia. Japan and the EU together account for more than a third of the world economy.
According to EU figures, the EU exports over 80 billion euro worth of goods and services to Japan every year and more than 600,000 jobs in the EU are tied to exports to Japan.
The two sides launched free trade talks in March 2013 and are expected to conclude the technical negotiations by the end of this year.