The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) enters into force today. The EU Parliament finally sealed the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in mid-December. EPA, as the agreement officially states, is creating a vast free trade area between the EU and Japan, which together make up about one third of global economic output.
Almost all tariffs on products of the two economic areas are eliminated by the agreement. The EU Commission estimates the savings for EU exporters by EPA at around one billion euros annually. Brussels also expects a significant increase in exports.
While business and industry associations expressly welcome the agreement, globalization critics, the Greens and left-wing politicians repeatedly warn against lowering environmental and consumer protection standards through the new free trade zone.