The European Union and Japan have reached political agreement on the completion of long-running negotiations for a trade deal which Downing Street believes could be worth £5 billion a year to the UK economy.
In talks at the G7 summit in Japan, leaders including David Cameron agreed to instruct negotiators to work to an accelerated timetable which could see the deal concluded as early as this autumn and come into effect next year.
The Prime Minister made it a key objective of the two-day gathering to secure progress in negotiations on the EU/Japan Economic Partnership Agreement/Free Trade Agreement - which began in 2013 and were initially intended to be completed last year.
Downing Street said an agreement could be worth the equivalent of £200 a year to British households in increased exports of products such as cars, manufactured goods, chemicals, food and drinks, as well as services, to Japan.
But key elements of the deal - including tariffs on agricultural and automotive exports and government procurement - must be completed over the summer if it is to be signed by the end of the year. A successful deal would mean the elimination of the vast majority of trade tariffs and boost imports and exports in key areas such as agriculture, car manufacturing and clothing, said Downing Street.
Mr Cameron discussed the deal with the summit’s host, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, during his visit to London earlier this month, and raised it in trade discussions with fellow G7 leaders in Ise-Shima on Thursday morning.
Welcoming the progress made towards finalising the deal, Mr Cameron said: “This agreement underlines once again why we are stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU. As prime minister Abe said when visiting the UK, Japan’s priority is negotiating with large trade blocs - not individual states in Europe. And this is something we hear time and again from foreign leaders.”