Japan fails to lift UK auto tariffs early in trade talks

TOKYO: Japan and Britain agreed to lift auto tariffs for a post-Brexit trade agreement in 2026 despite Japan’s push to lift the tariffs earlier, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Sunday.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is currently in negotiations with British Trade Minister Liz Truss in London.

Truss said in a statement that they “have reached consensus on the major elements of a deal,” and both have announced that they will agree on the principles of a trade deal by the end of August.

However, despite reassurances that the two countries had by and large reached an agreement, auto tariffs and agricultural products have proven to be a sticking point in the negotiations.

Japan had hoped to lift tariffs on auto and auto parts earlier than in the current trade deal between the EU and Japan, which will phase out import tariffs on Japanese vehicles by 2026.

“Japan agreed to phasing out auto tariffs on Japanese vehicles in 2026 in line with the EU trade deal, despite asking to hasten the timing,” Nikkei reported.

Britain, on the other hand, is hoping to secure better terms on agriculture, Financial Times reporter George Parker tweeted on Friday.

“UK-Japan trade talks close to agreement but @trussliz said by Brits to be holding out on agricultural access,” he said, referring to Truss’s Twitter handle.

Britain, which left the European Union in January, is seeking to clinch a trade agreement with Japan based on the 2019 EU-Japan agreement by the end of the year, when Britain’s no-change transition arrangement with the EU will expire.

The Japanese Trade Ministry and UK Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. – Aug 9, 2020, Reuters

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