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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. At the same time, Japan is the seventh largest partner for EU exports and imports of goods.
  • 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, motor vehicles, chemicals, optical and medical instruments, and plastics.
  • EU exports to Japan are dominated by chemicals, motor vehicles, machinery, optical and medical instruments, and food and drink.

EU-Japan: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2018-2020, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2018 59.6 57.8 -1.8
2019 62.9 61.1 -1.8
2020 54.9 54.5 -0.4

EU-Japan: Trade in services

Trade in services 2017-2019, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2017 14.1 25.9 11.8
2018 14.8 28.2 13.4
2019 16.2 30.9 14.6

EU-Japan: Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2019, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2019 217.0 108.2 -108.8

Unless otherwise mentioned “EU” concerns for all indicated years the current European Union of 27 Member States.

Date of retrieval: 12/04/2021

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.

From 2009-2019, trade figures became more balanced, as the EU’s trade in goods deficit with Japan decreased from €18 billion in 2009 to €2 billion in 2019.

Both exports to and imports from Japan increased between 2009 and 2019. For the period 2009-2019, EU exports to Japan reached their highest level in 2019 (€61 billion) and their lowest in 2009 (€32 billion). EU imports from Japan were highest in 2019 (€63 billion) and lowest in 2013 (€49 billion).

As of 2018, the EU had a €13 billion surplus in services trade with Japan.

EU-Japan total trade in services amounts to around 35% of EU-Japan total trade in goods. At the same time, EU exports of services to Japan amount to roughly 50% of EU exports of goods to the country.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