The EU signed a new trade deal with Japan last week. It is worth reading (at least in summary) its provisions. There are a number of striking features in this deal which expose the weakness of the EU’s current negotiating position with the UK. The UK is constantly told it cannot ‘cherry pick’ and that the four freedoms come in a package. Those principles do not, it seems, apply to deals with the land of the cherry blossom.
The EU Japan deal is primarily about the reduction and/or elimination of tariffs i.e. customs duties. In some cases like cheese there will be duty free ‘quotas’ not absolute free entry. As far as non-tariff barriers are concerned the provisions of the deal refer frequently to joint application of international standards on products such as motor vehicles and medical devices. Services are only partially covered. Public services are excluded from the deal.
The second striking feature of this deal is that it does not provide for unfettered free movement of people between the EU and Japan. It only facilitates the temporary movement of company personnel and their families.
Finally, disputes will be settled by an independent arbitration panel as is usual practice in international trade agreements. There seems to be no problem with allowing the Japanese to ‘cherry pick’ bits of the single market it seems. This deal must surely point the way to a similar deal for UK. Only problem, this would not suit the Commission negotiators who have consistently refused to consider any such flexibility towards the UK. Time to hand over to the member states who are likely to have a more balanced and pragmatic approach.