EU and Japan commit to avoiding ‘unnecessary barriers’ in times of COVID-19

work session during the G7 summit at Casino in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019 (Reissued 19 March 2020). US President Donald Trump said he is considering to schedule for 10 to 12 June 2020, or later, the G7 meeting in Camp David, Maryland, USA. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON / POOL

Leaders of the EU and Japan agreed on Tuesday (26 May) to avoid “unnecessary travel and export restrictions” to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, and to work together to defend multilateralism.

The EU’s relations with Japan have strengthened in recent years, in the face of a confrontational White House led by Donald Trump and the growing rivalry with China.

Tokyo has become the EU’s closest ally in the defence of multilateralism and level-playing field trade relations and the two countries signed an Economic Partnership Agreement, in force since 1 February 2019.

Following a teleconference with Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, European Council President Charles Michel said that “we have in Japan a very strong partner” to defend multilateralism. 

EU and Japan join forces to counter US and Chinese initiatives

The EU and Japan signed on Friday (27 September) a holistic partnership to promote investment projects based on rules-based and sustainable principles, and to counter the risks posed by the US and China.

“Global solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism are needed more than ever to defeat the coronavirus and ensure economic recovery,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also participated in the meeting, wrote on Twitter. 

The two partners agreed that any measure adopted to contain the pandemic must be “targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, and consistent with World Trade Organisation rules so that they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains.”

Their statement insisted on refraining from imposing “unnecessary travel and export restrictions.”

The EU and Japan will join forces to defend this position during the G7 meeting that the US will organise this summer. 

President Trump has said he was considering to host leaders in Camp David in June, in what would be the first physical summit held since the coronavirus crisis spread worldwide.  

Michel said that the G7 should develop a common strategy for the recovery from the recession.

In addition, the most industrialised economies should send “a very strong signal” about factoring in the impact of climate change in global trade, he said.

The EU and Japan also agreed that the future COVID-19 vaccine must become “a global common good.”

In this regard, Michel said the G7 should adopt a common approach in regards to the access to the vaccine and avoid “negative” competition during the developing and testing phase. 

EU and Japan 'cement' relationship against Trump’s protectionism

The European Union and Japan signed a long-awaited commercial trade deal on Tuesday (17 July), in an emphatic statement meant to counter US President Donald Trump’s attacks against free trade and the rules-based international order.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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