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On Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, the European Union (EU) and Japan signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), marking the largest trade deal ever negotiated by the EU.

The EPA will eliminate tariffs on almost all goods traded between Japan and the EU, which combined account for more than a third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The agreement will take effect in 2019 and is estimated to increase trade between Japan and the EU by more than €36 billion.

The EPA is also expected to create jobs and stimulate growth, particularly in areas such as agriculture, food and drink, and pharmaceuticals. The agreement will also provide greater protection to European geographical indications, such as champagne and parmesan cheese, as well as Japanese traditional products such as Kobe beef and sake.

The agreement also includes provisions for the protection of intellectual property rights, as well as commitments to sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

The EPA is a significant milestone for both Japan and the EU. Japan has been seeking to reduce its reliance on the Chinese market and diversify its export destinations, while the EU is looking to establish itself as a champion of free trade in the face of increasing protectionism from the United States.

The EPA is also a significant step forward in the EU’s strategic partnership with Japan, which has been growing in recent years. The EU and Japan share values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and have been working together on issues such as climate change, security, and global governance.

In summary, the EPA signed by the EU and Japan is a historic agreement that will create a free trade area that accounts for more than a third of the world’s GDP. The agreement is expected to boost trade, create jobs, and promote sustainable development, while also strengthening the strategic partnership between Japan and the EU.