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The EU and Japan have concluded an Economic Partnership Agreement (hereafter ‘EPA’), which entered into force on 1 February 2019. Together with a more general Strategic Partnership Agreement, provisionally applied since the same date, it has become the cornerstone of an enhanced relationship between the EU and Japan.

The EU-Japan EPA negotiations were officially launched on 25 March 2013, after the release of an impact assessment on the future Economic Partnership Agreement in July 2012.

An in-depth analysis of the EU-Japan EPA, carried out for the European Commission, was published in 2016. Furthermore, based on the outcome of the negotiations, the European Commission produced an economic impact report in July 2018.

Trade picture

  • Japan is the EU’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia after China.
  • Together the EU and Japan account for about a quarter of the world's GDP.
  • Imports from Japan to the EU are dominated by machinery, electrical machinery, motor vehicles, optical and medical instruments, and chemicals.
  • EU exports to Japan are dominated by motor vehicles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, optical and medical instruments, and electrical machinery.

EU-Japan: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2016-2018, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2016 66.0 58.0 -8.0
2017 68.9 60.5 -8.4
2018 70.4 64.7 -5.6

EU-Japan: Trade in services

Trade in services 2015-2017, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2015 16.3 29.2 12.9
2016 18.5 31.6 13.1
2017 18.3 34.7 16.3

EU-Japan: Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2017, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2017 228.9 99.4 -129.5

Date of retrieval: 17/04/2019

More statistics on Japan

EU and Japan

The traditional trade relationship between the EU and Japan used to be characterised by big trade surpluses in favour of Japan.

Trade figures are now more balanced. Japan’s surplus in goods trade has fallen, while the EU has a surplus in services trade with Japan.

In Japan, doing business or investing can be challenging for European companies due to the features of Japanese society and Japan’s economy.

To support the trade relationships between the EU and Japan, some informal bilateral dialogues and other specific initiatives have been established:

  • A Cooperation Framework aimed at promoting two-way investment via concrete actions has existed since 2004.
  • The EU-Japan Business Round Table: allows for a dialogue and an exchange of views between EU and Japanese businesses.
  • The Executive Training Programme and the EU Gateway Programme: encourages European enterprises to penetrate the Japanese market and gives them assistance .
  • The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation promotes all forms of industrial, trade and investment cooperation between the EU and Japan by helping EU and Japanese businesses to exchange experience and know-how, with a particular emphasis on SMEs.

Six important agreements have been concluded to date between the EU and Japan.

Committees and Dialogues

The EU and Japan meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices when applying the agreement.

Trading with Japan