The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed on 23 October in Tokyo by the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs. The agreement is the first to be concluded as an independent trading nation. Before leaving the EU internal market and customs union, the UK benefited from the extensive network of trade agreements with third countries. In many cases, the United Kingdom has simply tried to “shake up” transactions with third countries. Although the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one of the most recent (and comprehensive) agreements signed to date by the EU, both the UK and Japan agreed that there were areas where they could go further to reflect bilateral trade relations between the two countries. The agreement “provides more flexibility for Japanese and British companies” to transfer talent to each country, covering a number of British professionals for entry to Japan, from IT services to construction. This includes a commitment that visa requirements will be “clear, transparent and with the aim of being dealt with in 90 days.” Japan has expanded the scope of the ICT category and investor definitions have been modified to focus on investment as an activity and not on the amount of capital invested. Transfers from Japan to the UK are already subject to internal transfer rules, which will be improved in January as part of the delivery of the UK immigration system in 2021. The UK Youth Mobility Programme already covers Japan. The report of the Subcommittee on International Agreements found that the agreement “provides valuable continuity for businesses, consumers and other stakeholders.” The report also states that, although the agreement contains some additional provisions useful in relation to the EU-Japan agreement, this progress has been exaggerated by the government. The EPA between Japan and the UK goes well beyond the EU-Japan digital trade agreement.
Many of the provisions of the EPA are linked to those of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is a signatory and which the United Kingdom aspires to join. Additional obligations include that, under product-specific rules, British bread and biscuits (as well as some textiles) will also be easier to qualify for duty-free trade, as Japan-UK provisions involve fewer restrictions on where they can purchase biscuit ingredients than the EU-Japan agreement. Under the EPA, the importing party can set the validity of the original declaration for more than 12 months than the 12 months stipulated in the EU-Japan agreement. The new measures provide that a request for information may be made at the time of a review, either until the end of two years after importation or until the end of 38 months from the date of the establishment of the original declaration, with the most advanced date being chosen. On 11 September 2020, the United Kingdom concluded a free trade agreement with Japan: the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Kingdom and Japan. It was the UK`s first major trade agreement as an independent trading nation outside the EU. Among the main points of interest for the digital and fintech sectors: the obligations in terms of standards, regulation and compliance assessment remain largely the same as in the EU-Japan agreement. The report provides comments and analysis on the potential effects of the EPA on the Welsh economy in the short and long term. I hope that the analysis and information of Wales in the report will support the revision of the agreement by Senedd members, businesses and citizens. The House of Commons International Trade Committee (ITC) and the House of Lords Subcommittee on International Agreements have both published reports on the agreement. The ITC welcomed the signing of the agreement and the security and continuity that results.
The committee said: “While the differences between CEPA and JEEPA may not be as