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Ministers Humphreys and Breen welcome signature of historic EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

The European Union and Japan will today officially sign the landmark Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at the EU-Japan Summit in Tokyo. The Agreement is the biggest and most advanced bilateral trade deal ever negotiated by the European Union. It will create the largest free trade zone in history, covering 600 million people and a third of global GDP. When fully implemented, 99% of the tariffs applied on EU exports to Japan, which currently amount to about €1 billion, will be removed.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk will sign the Agreement with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They will also sign an accompanying Strategic Partnership Agreement.

It is expected that the Agreement will open up new opportunities for Irish exporters and companies across a wide range of sectors, including the agri-food sector, which will see particular benefits with new access for dairy products and beef. It will also facilitate greater ease in doing business in the financial services, med-tech, and green energy sectors and across the full range of trade interests that Ireland and Japan share. The Agreement also creates opportunities for Irish-based manufacturers in our pharmaceutical sector through an expansion of existing Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Good Manufacturing Practice to cover new pharmaceutical products.

Commenting on the signature of the Agreement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. stated:

“As an export driven economy, Ireland has been strongly supportive of this Agreement and the significant economic benefits it offers us. It will eliminate nearly all duties paid by Irish firms exporting to Japan and simplify customs procedures, opening up new market opportunities for our firms in one of the world’s richest markets. Irish exports to Japan are currently worth in the region of €8 billion a year. More than 50 Irish companies have in-market representation in Japan, and over 100 are actively exporting to the Japanese market. This Agreement will enable us to further build upon this success.”  

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen T.D also welcomed the Agreement. Speaking from Farnborough in the UK, where he is leading an Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission, Minister Breen said:

“The EU-Japan Agreement offers tangible opportunities for Irish exporters seeking to do business in Asia. Irish dairy producers for example will now gain duty free access to Japan’s valuable market where demand for dairy products has been growing steadily in recent years. Of particular significance for Ireland is the phased reduction to zero of tariffs for hard cheeses which are currently up to 28.9%. Japan’s tariffs on beef products which are currently as high as 38.9% will be reduced to 9%.

Coinciding with the signature of the EPA, I also welcome the announcement by the European Commission of an adequacy decision on data protection with Japan. This decision will create the world's largest area of safe data flows and removes a barrier to trade by ensuring that appropriate protections are in place to enable businesses to transfer data between the EU and Japan.”


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call DBEI Press Office at (01) 6312200, or email

Note to Editors:

After signature at today’s Summit, the Agreement will be ratified by the Japanese and EU parliaments. They hope to complete the ratification process and bring the deal into force by March 2019.

The EPA is based on the highest standards of labour, safety, environment and consumer protection. It is also the first trade agreement including a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

For more information on the EU-Japan EPA, please see: