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This note has been prepared in advance of the debate in the House of Commons on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on Tuesday 26 June 2018.

The EU-Japan EPA is described by the European Commission as the largest bilateral trade deal it has negotiated. Negotiations started in 2013, agreement in principle was reached in 2016 and the agreement finalised in 2017. The agreement is expected to be signed at the EU-Japan summit in July and come into force before the UK leaves the EU.

The EPA aims to boost trade between the EU and Japan by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers. These reductions in trade barriers are estimated to increase UK exports to Japan by between £3.2 billion and £5.4 billion. Imports are expected to increase by between £5.5 billion to £8.4 billion.

The EPA is an “EU only” agreement. As such, it does not require ratification by individual EU Member States. The agreement of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament is required.

The European Scrutiny Committee recommended a debate on the EPA on the floor of the House for the following reasons:

  • The EPA raises complex legal and policy issues for the UK
  • As, the EPA is an “EU only” agreement, this debate provides the only opportunity for the House of Commons as a whole to scrutinise the agreement before it is signed and concluded
  • It is necessary to understand how the Government will ensure more transparency and scrutiny of trade negotiations.

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