BORIS JOHNSON is on track for an early trade victory after Japan moved to sign an ambitious post-Brexit trade deal in just six weeks.
The UK and Japan are now on the road to securing one of the fastest trade deals in history and the nations first in more than 40 years after it finally unshackled itself from the EU. International trade secretary Liz Truss previously pledged the UK is working towards securing a “comprehensive” Brexit trade deal with Japan, which would go further than the existing agreement with the Brussels bloc.
The agreement will be based on the current EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) but Mr Johnsons Government hopes to secure additional benefits, namely in digital and data.
But Hiroshi Matsuura, Tokyos chief negotiator, urged both sides to “limit their ambitions” due to the short time scales.
He told the Financial Times: “To avoid a gap in January, we must pass this in the autumn session of the Diet – the Japanese parliament.
“That means we must complete negotiations by the end of July.
“The shortage of time means that both sides will have to limit their ambitions.
“We are doing this deal differently to the usual style.
“Instead of rounds of talks, we are negotiating every single day.”
But a Department for International Trade official insisted: “We will be fighting for British farmers access to the Japanese market as part of a deal along with ambitious digital and data chapters.”
A free trade deal could increase trade flows between the UK and Tokyo by £15.2 billion, boosting the British economy by £1.5 billion, according to a government analysis.
Ms Truss previously said She said: “Japan is one of our largest trading partners and a new trade deal will help to increase trade, boost investment and create more jobs following the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.
“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that goes even further than the existing agreement especially in digital and data.”
Meanwhile, official negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Australia began this month, with Mr Johnson saying the agreement would bring the countries “closer than ever before”.
Ms Truss has said she believed a free trade agreement with Australia could be an “exemplar” for other nations on “what the future of trade can look like”.
The first round of trade talks between the UK and Australia, along with New Zealand, is expected to begin – via video conference – in the coming weeks.
The news follows tortuous talks with the EU to agree a post-Brexit trade agreement.
Britain has until the end of the year to sign a new trade agreement with the Union, when the transition period following its exit from the bloc comes to an end.
Although much remains to be discussed, both parties have signalled progress.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron told Mr Johnson that France still supported reaching a deal on Brexit and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen stressed “willingness to undertake all possible efforts to come to an agreement.”