Free trade is on the march
By Scott Sumner
The Financial Times reports that the EU and Japan are about to sign a free trade agreement.
Japan and the EU are set to sign a sweeping free trade deal next week after talks in Tokyo made significant progress on the sensitive areas of cheese and car parts.
Although the negotiations broke up around 9pm on Saturday in Tokyo without a formal deal, officials signalled that their political leaders would be able to reach an agreement at a summit on July 6.
A deal would be an emphatic rejection of US President Donald Trump’s protectionism on the eve of next week’s G20 summit in Hamburg. It would send a message that the liberal world order is still in business and that those who reject it risk losing out on trade opportunities.
The EU also recently completed a free trade agreement with Canada (and a few years earlier an agreement with Mexico.)
Japan is also looking for opportunities:
In a pushback against the Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric, 11 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal have agreed on Sunday to proceed without the U.S.
The 11 nations met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting for trade ministers in Hanoi and agreed to assess options to bring the deal into force “expeditiously.”
. . .
TPP had been considered all but dead after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact, a broad 12-nation trade deal, which he claimed was a “disaster” that would hurt U.S. manufacturing.
Although Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had initially said that the TPP would be “meaningless” without the U.S., more recently, Japanese officials had begun to second calls from Australia and New Zealand to proceed without the U.S.
Unfortunately, one major country stands on the sidelines pouting while the rest of the world moves toward ever freer trade. Sad.