Negotiations between Japan and the UK began on June 8, with Tokyo’s chief negotiator Hiroshi Matsuura setting a deadline of six weeks. In order for the deal to be agreed by the Japanese Parliament, officials warned talks must be concluded as soon as possible. Although the deadline has been missed by the two negotiating teams, a Japanese official hinted a deal could be agreed by next month.
Japan’s own deal with the US was agreed in principle in August last year before being agreed in October, meaning there is still time for the UK.
The official told Morning Trade UK: “Considering the time needed for the legal details and the parliament ratification, early August is also possible.”
British officials have stated a deal could be agreed in September but must not include any rollbacks on UK goods.
A Department for International Trade official said: “Our priority is to maintain and enhance the trading relationship between our two countries.”
With the US-UK trade deal now pushed backed, an agreement with Japan over electronic goods and British luxury cars has been prioritised.
The UK is also looking for an agreement on agricultural standards while Japan is looking to remove tariffs on industrial goods entering Britain.
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss declared the conclusion of talks was a step closer to a trade deal with a friend and ally.
She said: “We are a step closer to reaching a comprehensive trade deal with a like-minded friend and ally.
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“The first round of talks were positive and productive, with a shared aim to be particularly ambitious in areas including digital trade and sustainability.”
Crucially, the UK is moving towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a former ambassador to Japan, Sir George Warren indicated.
The 11-nation pact includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
According to the ambassador, the inclusion would represent a major breakthrough for Japan in enlarging the economic group.
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Although the deadline was missed, it is hoped a deal will be in place as soon as the UK’s transition from the EU is completed.
If the agreement is completed within the coming weeks, it would represent a major boost for the UK in its post-Brexit future.
In a statement, Mr Matsuura insisted the two sides need to adjust their positions in order to agree a deal in time.
He added: “It is our highest priority to achieve an agreement within the timeframe.
“We need to adjust ambitions to a realistic level.”
One sticking point is the UK’s desire to have a deal which expanded on Japan’s agreement with the European Union.