According to ECSA, the agreement with Japan is the biggest bilateral trade partnership ever negotiated by the European Union. It is expected to remove the vast majority of customs duties that cost EU companies exporting to Japan €1 billion a year. EU exports to Japan could increase by over one third. In an official statement, the European Commission explained:

The agreement will also eliminate a number of long-standing regulatory barriers, such as double testing and overlapping bureaucracy. It will open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports, protect over 200 traditional European regional food and drink products in Japan (the so-called Geographical Indications) and increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors, including the ability for European companies to bid for public contracts in many Japanese cities.

The agreement namely contains obligations to maintain open and non-discriminatory access to international maritime services such as transport and auxiliary services, as well as access to ports and port services, explained ECSA’s Secretary General, Martin Dorsman.

Shipping needs global trade to exist and global trade cannot exist without an efficient shipping industry. Around 90% of world trade in goods is carried by the international shipping industry and European shipowners control 40% of the world’s merchant fleet and operate shipping services all over the world.

Once approved by the Council, the agreements will be sent to the European Parliament, aiming for the entry into force before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019. The investment protection agreement with Singapore will follow its ratification procedure also at Member State level.

The trade and investment agreements with Singapore are the EU’s first completed bilateral deals with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Within ASEAN, Singapore is by far the EU’s largest partner with a total bilateral trade in goods of €53.3 billion (2017) and in services of €44.4 billion (2016). The Commission added:

Over 10,000 EU companies are established in Singapore and use it as a hub to serve the whole Pacific region. With these agreements, the EU has therefore made an important stride towards setting high standards and rules for the important and fast-growing Southeast Asian region.