Japan-EU free trade deal takes effect

Japan-EU free trade deal takes effect

A comprehensive free trade deal between Japan and the European Union has come into force. The pact will eventually remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of imports from both sides and liberalize rules in a broad spectrum of fields.

The Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA, took effect on Friday. Japan and the EU ratified the deal last December.

Japan and the EU have a total population of 640 million. And they account for 28 percent of global GDP and 37 percent of the value of the world's trade.

Japan will eliminate tariffs on 94 percent of its imports from the EU, including agricultural products. The EU will scrap levies on 99 percent of imports from Japan.

The two sides will also liberalize rules in a wide range of areas, such as investment, services, and public procurement.

The Japanese government says the EPA will expand trade and investment, pushing up the country's real GDP by about one percent and create roughly 290,000 jobs.

Tokyo led negotiations on the EPA with the EU and another major free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves Japan and 10 other nations. The TPP came into effect late last December.

The Japanese government hopes the two major trade deals will help advance the importance of free trade to the world amid growing protectionism.