The European Cocoa Association says it welcomes the signature of an Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan.
The association said it believed that the agreement will create business opportunities for the European cocoa industry by removing tariffs and opening the Japanese market to EU cocoa exports. The agreement was signed at the recent EU-Japan summit in Tokyo.
The trade agreement is the largest ever negotiated by the EU and will create an open trade zone covering over 600 million people.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (shown here) said, “The document we signed today is much more than a trade agreement. It is of course a tool that will create opportunities for our companies, our workers and our citizens and that will boost the European and Japanese economies.
“It is also a statement. For its content, its scope and also its timing. It is a statement by two like-minded partners that together represent nearly a third of the world’s GDP and reiterate their commitment to uphold the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection.
“What we’re saying is that we believe in open, fair and rules-based trade. What we are saying is that a trade agreement is not a zero sum game, but a win-win for the involved parties. This agreement will bring tangible benefits to both sides and at the same time safeguard each other’s sensitivities.”
Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, said “Together with Japan, we are sending a strong signal to the world that two of its biggest economies still believe in open trade, opposing both unilateralism and protectionism.
“The economic benefits of this agreement are clear. By removing billions of euros of duties, simplifying customs procedures and tackling behind-the-border barriers to trade, it will offer opportunities for companies on both sides to boost their exports and expand their business.
“The European agriculture sector in particular has something to celebrate, with access to the enormous Japanese market and protection for over 200 distinctive food and drinks. I now call on the European Parliament to approve this agreement quickly so that firms, citizens and farmers can reap the benefits as soon as possible.”
The agreement will remove the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers.
It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.
The agreement is now awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and the Japanese Diet following which it could enter into force in 2019.