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Germany, France and UK issue joint statement to US: DON’T DUMP JCPOA – AKA IRAN DEAL

Germany’s Foreign Minister has echoed the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in saying that a US withdrawl from the JCPOA would send the wrong message to North Korea.

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Berlin has released a statement jointly signed by the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, urging the United States not to pull out of the 2015 JCPOA, often referred to as the ‘Iran deal’.

The news comes as many suspect that Donald Trump is preparing to defy the advice of his own state department, his allies in Germany, France, Britain and the EU as a whole, as well as the stated wishes of Russia and China and withdraw from the deal.

The statement was presented by Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Gabriel previously stated that the “world will change” if the US pulls out of the deal, warning that Germany believes Trump may be on the verge of withdrawal.

Today, Gabriel echoed the words of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in stating that if the US withdraws from the JCPOA, it would send the wrong message to North Korea, one which indicates that the US is not willing nor able to adhere to internationally reached agreements.

This comes as Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, has stated,

“The current situation proves that our party chose the right path by developing the economy and nuclear power simultaneously… In spite of the brutal sanctions of the United States and its satellites, the national economy has expanded”.

With Russia and even South Korea leaving the door for economic cooperation with Pyongyang open, as an incentive to de-escalate tensions in East Asia, the United States is finding itself increasingly isolated in respect of its bellicose threats against both Tehran and Pyongyang. Such threats are rejected not only by Russia and China, but also by America’s EU allies.

Today, Russia’s Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, also expressed Russia’s desire not to see the JCPOA undermined by the United States. Peskov said,

“President Putin has repeatedly spoken about the importance of the agreement on the so-called Iranian nuclear dossier. Of course, the withdrawal of one of the countries, especially a key country like the United States, from this agreement will only have negative consequences”.

Two Koreas–One Road: The future of cooperation between North Korea, South Korea and Russia

If the US de-certifies the deal, Iran may consider the deal null and void. However, there remains a possibility that Russia, China and Europe could work with Iran to preserve elements of the deal in spite of the Trump administration’s intransigence against any sort of cooperation with Iran.

As I recently wrote in respect of the crisis in Washington over the JCPOA:

“When it comes to North Korea, there is a global consensus (whether this consensus is moral or otherwise) which states that Pyongyang should cease testing its weapons and that further more, dialogue between all concerned sides, including China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US, must restart.

In respect of Iran, even among countries which are generally on the different side of major geo-political issues vis-a-vis the Iranian government, there is a concensus that Iran is in full compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement which alleviated western fears (however irrational) about supposed long-term Iranian plans to develop nuclear weapons.

The JCPOA was agreed upon after joint talks between Iran, China, Russia, US, UK, France, Germany and the EU as a whole. Currently, all of the aforementioned parties formally agree that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement. However, Donald Trump has given frequent vocal indications that he is displeased with the JCPOA. He even went so far as to call to JCPOA an “embarrassment” at the United Nations, during the same speech in which he threatened a “destroy” North Korea while insulting the North Korean leader by referring to him as “rocket man”.

During the opening session of the General Assembly just weeks ago, every party to the JCPOA affirmed their commitment to the deal, including the United States. Even more recently, both US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as well as US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, have agreed that Iran is complying with the deal.

In spite of this, Donald Trump has continually sought to use speeches and Twitter posts to undermine the deal. However, few people seem to be buying Trump’s reasoning, including members of his own cabinet.

The only other world figure who has perpetually worked to aggressively undermine the JCPOA, is Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. While many world figures including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov used their speech before the United Nations General Assembly to praise the deal, only Trump and Netanyahu took direct aim at the deal, in speeches filled with wildly inaccurate anti-Iranian rhetoric.

Donald Trump recently met with top US military figures, although the only thing Trump publicly disclosed about the meeting was that it represented “the calm  before the storm”. Other White House officials have been equally cryptic when asked about the worrisome remark.

There are several explanations for what might be going on

1. Internal White House Chaos 

Starting with Michael Flynn and more recently culminating with Steve Bannon, the Trump White House has struggled to keep key foreign policy makers on board. Firings and resignations have plagued a Trump administration that is less than a year old.

Rex Tillerson is currently in the spotlight in what can only be called “resignation watch” after unverified reports that have not been specifically denied by Tillerson, stated that the Secretary of State called Donald Trump a “moron”. By some accounts he used the words “fucking moron” to described the US President after a heated meeting.

Donald Trump has denied such an event’s existence, but what is undeniable, is that Trump and Tillerson have had many open disagreements on US foreign policy. Such disagreement include Tillerson’s statement that the US must quietly pursue dialogue with Pyongyang, something Trump called a waste of time. It also includes Tillerson’s State Department’s support of the JCPOA which Trump clearly wants to scrap and finally, Tillerson has said he favours dialogue and neutrality over the Saudi-Qatar dispute, while Trump openly Tweeted pro-Saudi rhetoric saying that Qatar is a state sponsor of terrorism in line with Saudi accusations.

In this sense. the ongoing row between Trump and Tillerson could be manifesting itself in the form of semi-public test of wills over Iran. In an administration seemingly organised on the petty whims of personal vanity, it is entirely conceivable that Trump and Tillerson’s disagreements over the JCPOA have led to Trump taking an autocratic approach to public policy making. Certainly this would appear to be the case when it comes to the unfounded anti-JCPOA rhetoric which is not shared by any other parties to the agreement.

2. The Israel Lobby versus The World 

It is no secret that the US based Israel lobby is the most powerful of the many powerful lobbying bodies in the United States. Israel is unique in its hostility to Iran and is particular hostility to the JCPOA, even by Saudi standards.

What’s more is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, which neither Iran nor its rival Saudi Arabia has.

In spite of this, while Israel has pivoted its foreign policy to be more anti-Iranian than anti-Arab, Israel has yet attack let alone occupy Iran in the way it continues to do in respect of Arab countries.

Having totally failed to manufacture international consensus against Iran, even among Israel’s putative allies, the powerful US Israel lobby has been spewing anti-Iranian rhetoric in an attempt to further taint Iran’s reputation among the American public.

In respect of Donald Trump, who has been on good personal terms with Benjamin Netanyahu even before becoming President, Trump may be simply doing the bidding of the Israel lobby and his self-described “friend” in order to go against the more moderate voices in his own administration which includes both Rex Tillerson and apparently James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

If it really is a matter of Israel ‘wagging the dog’ in respect of Donald Trump, this is proof positive that Trump is not fit to be the US President as he is no longer putting the interests of his own country, nor the collective interests of world peace, before the war mongering desires of the rogue Israeli regime.

3. From Mad Man Theory to “Moron Theory”

Richard Nixon was many things, but he was certainly not a “moron”. He may have been the most intelligent US President of the 20th century. One of Nixon’s ploys was known as the mad man theory. According to this theory, which was often put into practice by the Nixon White House, statements that Nixon had apparently made indicating his willingness to use extreme force, including nuclear weapons, even in the seemingly most mundane situations, were purposefully leaked to foreign powers.

Dovetailing onto the idea of mutually assured destruction, Nixon’s mad man image was said to force other powers to the negotiating table, for fear that anything less would mean a Nixon pressing the nuclear button.

While the mad man theory defies the laws of ethics and of transparency, it is a classic case of extreme brinkmanship that was common during the Cold War and which Nixon mastered so much that he actually managed to achieve both detente with the Soviet Union as well as opening up western diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Many have proffered the idea that Donald Trump’s public image as a trigger happy leader with no real knowledge of world affairs, is a giant bluff in order to try and bring others to the table. While it is not beyond the realm of the possible that Donald Trump’s objectively idiotic remarks on world affairs, his threatening rhetoric and apparent disorderly administration are in fact contrived measures designed to scare others into some sort of negotiating, this theory, even if true, is highly misguided.

During the Nixon era, it was clear what the United States wanted from the powers which the ‘mad man theory’ was tested upon. In respect of Donald Trump, apart from levying more sanctions on Iran, something that would infuriate America’s EU allies, there is little else that Trump could achieve apart from provoking Iran into war which even many in the Pentagon admit would be a disaster.

In respect of North Korea, brinkmanship has already failed. The more the US threatens Pyongyang with war and the more unilateral sanctions the US passes, the more North Korea retorts with further threats and with further weapons tests. China has already made clear that it will not allow a preemptive US led attack on North Korea and Pyongyang for its part, is always careful to temper its threats with statements indicating that North Korea would never be the first to strike against the US or allied target. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also warned the US that the North Koreans would rather “eat grass” than surrender to the United States. Where the Iraqi army ran away during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, North Korea would likely fight to the death, with every weapon and man at its disposal.

As for America’s proxy wars directly primarily against China but also Russia, there is also little that a “moron theory” could do other than entrench the Sino-Russian alliance more so than it already is.

To put it bluntly, while the “moron theory” may work on certain domestic issues, it is not, has not and almost certainly will not work in foreign affairs.

CONCLUSION: 

The Trump administration appears to be compromised by its own disorganisation and personal disputes and like many US administrations, the Trump administration is also apparently torn between moderate voices urging a balance and an extremist Israeli position that far too many in the US are utterly beholden to. When this is combined with Trump’s “take no prisoners” attitude towards negotiation, Trump is going to lose far more than he will win.

He has totally lost the trust of Iran and North Korea, he has lost the respect of China and Russia, he has fully alienated Pakistan, Turkey and perhaps even Saudi Arabia, he has exhausted the patience of America’s traditional EU and East Asian allies and he has seemingly lost control over his own administration and country. The only danger is if Donald Trump is powerful enough to do something truly dangerous to the world, but too weak and ill-informed to actually understand what he is doing”.

http://theduran.com/trump-vs-jcpoa-really-trupm-vs-world/

 

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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Europe divided over possible trade compromise with Trump

Even if a European proposal could score a trade cease fire, the war isn’t over

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US President Donald Trump has just lectured NATO on it member’s commitment performance and held a controversial meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and is next week to receive EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with trade matters being high up on the agenda.

Juncker is expected to present Trump with a package of proposals to help smooth relations and potentially heal areas of division, particularly those surrounding Europe’s trade relationship with America. Those proposals are precisely what is cropping up as another area of divergence between some members of the EU, specifically France and Germany, just after a major contention on migration has been driving discord within the Union.

This gets down to whether Europe should offer concessions to Trump on trade while Trump is admittedly describing the Union as a ‘foe’ and has initiated a trade spat with the Union by assessing trade tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, spurring retaliatory tariff measures from the EU Commission.

France, specifically, is opposed to any sort of compromise with Trump on the matter, where Trump is perceived as an opponent to the Union and its unity, whereas Germany is economically motivated to seek an end to the trade dispute under the threat of a new round of tariffs emanating from the Trump administration, and is therefore seeking to find some sort of proposal that Trump will accept and therefore back down on his protectionism against the EU, and Germany in particular.

Politico reports:

Only a week before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker flies to Washington, France and Germany are divided over how much he should offer to U.S. President Donald Trump to end a deepening trade war, say European diplomats and officials.

But, they add, Germany has the upper hand. Berlin is shaping Juncker’s agenda, suggesting three offers that he could take to Trump on July 25 to resolve the dispute, according to people familiar with the plans.

The French are uneasy about the wisdom of such a conciliatory approach, however, and publicly accuse Trump of seeking to splinter and weaken the 28-member bloc, which he has called his “foe.”

Despite Paris’ reservations about giving away too much to the increasingly hostile U.S. president, the diplomats say that the European Commission’s powerful Secretary-General Martin Selmayr supports the German attempt at rapprochement, which makes it more likely that Juncker will offer some kind of trade fix next week.

“It’s clear that Juncker can’t go to Washington empty-handed,” one diplomat said. He stressed that Juncker’s proposals would be a political signal to Washington and would not be the formal beginning of negotiations, which would have to be approved by EU countries.

European ambassadors will meet on Wednesday to discuss the scope of Juncker’s offer — and indeed whether any offers should be made at all. France’s official position is that Europe must not strike any deal with a gun to its head, or with any country that has opted out of the Paris climate accord, as Trump’s America has done.

While Berlin is terrified by the prospect of 20 percent tariffs on cars and is desperate for a ceasefire deal, France has more fundamental suspicions that the time for compromise is over and that Trump simply wants to destroy EU unity. Paris is concerned that Trump’s next target is its sacred farm sector and is putting more emphasis on the importance of preserving a united political front against Washington.

Two diplomats said Berlin has a broad menu of offers that should be made to Trump: a bilateral deal to cut industrial tariffs, a plurilateral agreement to eliminate car duties worldwide, and a bigger transatlantic trade agreement including regulatory cooperation that potentially also comes with talks on increasing U.S. beef exports into Europe.

Making such generous offers is contentious when Trump crystallized his trade position toward Brussels on CBS news on Sunday: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

This undiplomatic bombshell came not long after he reportedly advised French President Emmanuel Macron to quit the EU to get a better trade deal than he was willing to offer the EU28.

In announcing Juncker’s visit on Tuesday, the White House said that he and Trump “will focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership.”

Talking to the enemy

Diplomats note that a French-led camp in Brussels reckons Trump’s goals are strategic, and that he’s not after the sort of deal Germany is offering.

A French government official said that Washington quite simply wants to shift the EU off the stage: “Trump’s objective is that there are two big blocs: The United States and China. A multipower world with Europe as a strong player does not fit in.”

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire this month also issued a stark warning that Trump is seeking to drive a wedge between France and Germany — courting Paris, while simultaneously attacking Berlin’s trade surplus with the U.S. “In this globalized world, European countries must form a bloc, because what our partners or adversaries want is to divide us,” Le Maire said at an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence. “What the United States want, that’s to divide France and Germany.”

Despite these remarks from Le Maire, Anthony Gardner, former ambassador to the EU under the Barack Obama administration, said that he suspects the full magnitude of the threat has not sunk in. “Europe wake up; the U.S. wants to break up the EU,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Remember Belgium’s motto: L’union fait la force. [Unity creates strength]. Especially on trade. No side deals.”

One EU diplomat insisted that Brussels is not blind to these dangers in the run-up to Juncker’s visit.

Trump thinks that Europe is “too big to be controllable by DC, so it’s bad for America. Simple logic. And therefore the only deal that will bring the president to stop the trade war is the deal that breaks up the European market. I don’t quite think that’s the legacy Juncker is aiming for,” the diplomat said.

Europe is source of a deep frustration for Trump, as it runs a massive goods surplus with the U.S., at $147 billion in 2016. In particular, the U.S. president blames Germany’s mighty car exporters for this imbalance.

Leveling the field is not easy, however. With its market of 510 million consumers, Europe not only has the clout to stand up to the United States, but is increasingly setting global standards — particularly on food. This not only limits U.S. exports in Europe but also means that the European model is used in a broader trading ecosystem that includes Canada, Mexico and Japan.

New world order

Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch member of the European Parliament, observed that the U.S. trade strategy meshed with Trump’s political agenda.

“You could say there’s a new transatlantic relation emerging, of nationalists, populists and protectionists,” she said, pointing out that Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast doubt on America’s commitment to supporting European security.

Trump’s opposition to the EU partly builds on an long-standing American discomfort about the EU’s economic policies.

“We already saw problems during the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where the U.S. didn’t like EU demands such as on geographical indications [food name protections], and certainly didn’t like that we had ambitious requests in areas like public procurement,” said Pascal Kerneis, managing director of the European Services Forum and a member of the now defunct TTIP advisory group.

Kerneis said that Trump’s trade attacks are shifting the tensions to a completely new level: “He’s attacking on all fronts, hoping to break our unity, particularly between Germany and France.”

France particularly fears that Trump’s duties on Spanish olives could only be the first salvo on Europe’s whole system of farm subsidies.

EU lawmaker Schaake said that France is right to worry about a conflagration. “Once we give in in one area, he will attack at the next one,” she said. “If we allow Trump to play Europeans against each other, sector by sector, it will be a losing game.”

Even if Europe goes about capitulating to Trump’s gripes about the Union, whether it gets back to NATO defense spending or the trade deficit, the question remains whether this will satiate Trump’s political appetite and result in an improved trade perspective and politically acceptable position with Washington, and France’s concern that the matter runs deeper and has a foreign policy agenda behind it, and that caving to Trump’s pressure will only end in defeat for the EU would therefore appear reasonable.

But Germany is staring down the barrel of a possible new round of tariffs that would hurt some of their largest industries and is therefore under a lot of pressure to find a solution, or at least some sort of agreement that could deescalate the situation.

However, Germany’s recent record of resolving international issues is such that Germany is really only scoring cease fire agreements, rather than ending the real political conflicts, referring mainly to the immigration issue which recently resulted only in diffusing some inter Union tensions, but without resolving the problem itself.

In this context, Germany could promise the moon and stars to Trump, possibly avert further trade tensions, but yet fail to address the core political and trade conflicts that have already broken out. Essentially, then, such a compromise would only serve to function as damage control, while leaving Germany and the Union at a further disadvantaged political position relative to the States at the political table.

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EU and Japan ink free trade deal representing over 30% of global GDP

The free trade agreement represents a victory for free trade in the face of growing protectionism

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In a bid to preserve free trade and strengthen their trade partnership, the European Union and Japan have finished a free trade zone agreement that has been sitting in the pipeline for years.

The present global economic outlook provided the needed spur to action to get the ball rolling again and now it has finally reached the end zone and scored another point for free and open trade against the growing influence of protectionism, which has been creeping up with alarming rapidity and far reaching consequences in recent months.

Under the deal, Japan will scrap tariffs on some 94% of goods imported from Europe and the EU in turn is canning 99% of tariffs on Japanese goods.

Between the European Union and Japan, the trade deal impacts about 37% of the world’s GDP, making it one of the largest and impactful of such agreements.

The Japan Times reports:

Top European Union leaders and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed an economic partnership agreement Tuesday in Tokyo, a pact that will create a massive free trade zone accounting for 37 percent of the world’s trade by value.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hastily arranged their visit to Tokyo after Abe was forced to abruptly cancel plans to attend a July 11 signing ceremony in Brussels in the aftermath of flooding and mudslides in western Japan.

Japanese officials said the signing is particularly important to counter intensifying protectionism worldwide triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Negotiations on the pact between Japan and the EU, which started in 2013, had stagnated for a time but regained momentum after Trump took office in January 2017.

“We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism,” Tusk said at a joint news conference with Abe after they signed the agreement.

“The relationship between the EU and Japan has never been stronger. Geographically we are far apart, but politically and economically we could be hardly any closer,” Tusk said. “I’m proud today we are taking our strategic partnership to a new level.”

Tusk stressed that the EU and Japan are partners sharing the same basic values, such as liberal democracy, human rights and rule-based order.

Abe also emphasized the importance of free and fair trade.

“Right now, concerns are rising over protectionism all around the world. We are sending out a message emphasizing the importance of a trade system based on free and fair rules,” he said.

The pact will create a free trade bloc accounting for roughly 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Japan and the EU hope to have the agreement, which still needs to be ratified by both parties, come into force by March.

Under the EPA, tariffs on about 99 percent of Japan’s exported goods to the EU will eventually be eliminated, while duties on 94 percent of EU’s exported items to Japan will be abolished, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The EPA will eliminate duties of 10 percent on Japan’s auto exports to the EU seven years after the pact takes effect. The current 15 percent duties on wine imports from the EU will be eliminated immediately, while those on cheese, pork and beef will be sharply cut.

In total, the EPA will push up domestic GDP by 1 percent, or ¥5 trillion a year, and create 290,000 new jobs nationwide, according to the government.

“The world is now facing raging waves of protectionism. So the signing ceremony at this time is particularly meaningful,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said earlier this month on condition of anonymity.

“The impact for Japan is big,” the official said.

Fukunari Kimura, an economics professor at Keio University, said the EU is now trying to accelerate the ratification process.

“This is a repercussion of President Trump’s policies. They will try to ratify it before Brexit in March of next year,” he said in an interview with The Japan Times last week.

But the deal has raised concerns among some domestic farmers, in particular those from Hokkaido, the country’s major dairy producer.

According to an estimate by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, the EPA will cut national production in the agriculture, fishery and forestry industries by up to ¥114.3 billion a year, with Hokkaido accounting for 34 percent of the predicted losses.

“The sustainable development of the prefecture’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries is our top priority. We need to make efforts to raise our international competitiveness,” Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said during a news conference July 10.

Japan and the EU had reached a basic agreement on the EPA in December.

Tokyo also led negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in January 2017.

In March, 11 countries including Japan signed the so-called TPP11, or a revised TPP pact that does not include the U.S.

“The Japan-EU EPA is another important step for Japan to strengthen its trade relationship with key trading partners, and demonstrate that trade liberalization is alive and well, even if the United States is taking a different stance,” wrote Wendy Cutler, a former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative, in an email sent to The Japan Times last week.

“The EU deal also reduces Japanese dependence on the U.S. market and thus increases its leverage to resist unreasonable trade demands by the United States,” she wrote.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the EU, which accounts for 22 percent of the world’s GDP, was the destination for 11.4 percent of Japanese exports in 2016. In the same year, the figure for the U.S. was 20.2 percent and 17.7 percent for China.

In 2016, Japan’s exports to the EU totaled ¥8 trillion, while reciprocal trade was ¥8.2 trillion.

The deal provides tariff relief for both parties and can improve the quantity of trade between them, expand the economy and create many jobs. It also helps to further diversify their trade portfolios in order to mitigate the prospect of a single global trade partner wielding too much influence, which in turn provides a certain amount of cover from any adverse actions or demands from a single actor. In this way, current trade dependencies can be reduced and free and diversified trade is further bolstered.

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