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Japan eyes UK agreement to ease impact of Brexit

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-26 07:02

PM Abe hopes to have basic free trade deal reached with EU next month

TOKYO - Japan wants to hold informal free trade talks with the United Kingdom as it also works to sign a deal with the European Union, a report said on Sunday.

Tokyo's moves aim to minimize Brexit's impact on Japanese companies as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU, the business daily Nikkei reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants to reach a basic free trade agreement with the EU next month.

More than 1,000 Japanese companies operate in Britain, employing some 140,000 people in the country, while Japan's direct investment in the UK has topped 10 trillion yen ($96 billion) to date.

Japanese officials have already warned businesses with European headquarters based in Britain that they may have to relocate to continental Europe after a final deal is signed between London and the EU.

Japan's major automakers have so far backed the British economy, with Toyota announcing an investment in a car assembly plant while Nissan gave the green light to new investments at its plant in northeast England.

Japan is planning to start informal talks with the UK while it remains in the EU, but will wait until the country has left the bloc before launching formal bilateral negotiations, the Nikkei report said, without citing sources.

"As (the UK) is not allowed to launch formal negotiations with a third country under the EU rules, the Japanese and British governments will prepare (informal) talks behind the scenes," it said.

Japan does not currently have a trade deal with the EU but is locked in long-running negotiations with the bloc. On Saturday, Abe said he is aiming to reach a Japan-EU free trade deal during his visit to Germany to attend a Group of 20 summit.

"I hope to hold a summit meeting with the EU and reach a basic agreement there," he said.

"The Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement will be a model for 21st century economic order," said Abe.

He added that he hoped the EU deal would provide the same stability promised by the enormous Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. US President Donald Trump has pulled out of the TPP, effectively putting the deal on hold.

The UK voted to end its four-decade membership of the 28-nation bloc in a referendum last year.

Agence France-presse

(China Daily 06/26/2017 page11)

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