Japan and Britain are seeking a deal on mutual recognition of each other’s standards for goods and services for when Britain exits the European Union. Britain is looking to strengthen its relationship with as it prepares to leave the EU in March 2019.
Earlier this year, May visited Japan to reassure Shinzo Abe and concerned investors that Brexit would not make any less attractive as a business partner.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono stated at a defense meeting on foreign policy, he wanted an agreement with Britain on mutual recognition of standards as well as judicial support following Brexit.
“We have an agreement with the EU about those but with the coming Brexit I want to start preparing to make such agreements between Japan and the UK,” Kono said.
Alongside Kono, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, “Of course it is exactly right that we need to protract the economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan and make it specific to the UK. But we believe in terms of mutual recognition, as Taro has just said, we believe that can be readily and speedily accomplished”.
A mutual recognition agreement, which would allow both countries to accept one another’s rules as equal, would avert the creation of technical barriers to cross-border trade. Britain is the second most important destination for Japanese investment after the United States.
Japanese companies such as carmaker Nissan and Hitachi have invested over 40 billion pounds ($53.68 billion) in Britain, and Japanese companies are responsible for employing 140,000 people throughout the country. The absolute value of traded goods between the UK and Japan is about 13 billion pounds annually.
But Japan has been unusually outspoken about its concerns that Britain’s departure from the EU, which was decided by a national vote in 2016, could affect current and future Japanese investments in Britain.
When Kono was asked about the government’s handling of the Brexit process, he said he desired for it to be predictable and clear. Johnson believes that Britain will remain the best country in that hemisphere for Japanese as well as other companies to invest following Brexit.
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Johnson added that Wednesday’s rebellion in parliament on the legislation required to execute Brexit had complicated the legal exit process would not get in the way of Britain leaving the EU.
“Brexit is unstoppable,” Johnson said. “My view is it won’t for one second stop Brexit or stop the Brexit process.”