A fact which is lost on many of the proponents of Brexit is that when the UK leaves the EU it will also step aside from the 50 or so trade deals that it has with other nations around the world meaning that the UK will have to run very, very fast just to stand still.
The most recent addition to this cannon of agreements is an EU-Japan free trade deal which was agreed on Friday and now needs the ratification of the EU states and the European parliament before it can come into force.
The free trade deal with Japan not only establishes one of the world’s most extensive economic areas, but is a symbolic gesture beyond its economic value and of great strategic importance, according to a joint statement issued by EC President, Mr Juncker and Japanese PM, Mr Abe: "It sends a clear signal to the world that the EU and Japan are committed to keeping the world economy working on the basis of free, open and fair markets with clear and transparent rules fully respecting and enhancing our values, fighting the temptation of protectionism.”
The agreement is the largest deal ever signed by the EU and will liberalise almost all trade between the block and Japan, which remains the world’s third largest economy. The deal is being lauded by those who oppose the protectionist stance of Trump’s America which pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership which sought to emulate a regional EU-like trading bloc.
The Japanese economy serves 127 million people whilst the (current) EU counts some 500 million citizens. The deal will facilitate two key aspects of Japan-EU trade in vehicles and dairy, wine and pork products, amongst other things.
Work remains to be done on an agreement over investment protection which has been split out from the current agreement and will be the subject of ongoing talks in 2018. At the heart of that topic is the nomination of a court of arbitration with the EU favouring a new Investment Court System and Japan preferring the previous system of Investor-State Dispute Settlement.