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Truss hails new trade deal with Japan as Brexit date nears

PUBLISHED: 16:04 23 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:40 23 October 2020

International Trade Secretary?Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu celebrate UK-Japan free trade deal signing in Tokyo  Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE

International Trade Secretary?Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu celebrate UK-Japan free trade deal signing in Tokyo Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE

DIT

Businesses in the East of England are being encouraged to explore exporting to Japan after the UK secured what the government described as an “historic” post-Brexit trade deal.

Medical couches being made at Seers Medical in Debenham  Picture: SEERS MEDICALMedical couches being made at Seers Medical in Debenham Picture: SEERS MEDICAL

Exporters have been promised “more straightforward” customs cost and procedures with the UK’s 13th most important trading partner after international trade secretary Liz Truss and Japanese foreign minister Motegi Toshimitsu signed a deal in Tokyo.

It cleared the way to membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which would “open new opportunities for British business and boost our economic security”, said Ms Truss.

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While it includes an extra chapter on digital trade, critics say the deal is very similar to the European Union’s existing one with Japan. However, the Norfolk MP said it included “enhancements” in areas such as food and drink, creative industries and digital and data.

Medical couches being made at Seers Medical in Debenham  Picture: SEERS MEDICALMedical couches being made at Seers Medical in Debenham Picture: SEERS MEDICAL

Suffolk-based medical couches maker Seers Medical – which already receives around three orders a month from Japan – is hoping it will boost its business.

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The Debenham firm – founded in 2008 – employs 55 workers and exports to 90 countries. Sales boss John Mason said: “Japan has a unique trading culture and is a market which we definitely want to keep growing in, so a free trade agreement that reduces red tape and certain costs would help make us more competitive.”

Currently the UK has a trade deficit with Japan, and in 2019 exported £7.3bn worth of goods to it while importing £9.7bn worth back in. It’s the UK’s 13th-most important overseas market, accounting for 1.9% of total UK exports.

The shop floor at Seers Medical in Debenham  Picture: SEERS MEDICALThe shop floor at Seers Medical in Debenham Picture: SEERS MEDICAL

The East of England exported goods worth a total of around £870m to Japan in 2019, but the Department for International Trade (DIT) pointed out that UK exports to Japan were growing at a rate of around 8.2% a year.

“I’m delighted that East of England businesses like Seers Medical have a strong trading relationship with Japan and this trade deal could boost the region’s economy by helping our innovative SMEs to win more business in the Japanese market,” said head of trade for DIT East of England Alan Pain. “I would encourage businesses in the East of England to contact our team to see how we can help you explore new exporting opportunities and grow your business in Japan.”

Ms Truss said: “At its heart, this deal is about creating opportunity and prosperity for all parts of our United Kingdom and driving the economic growth we need to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”

British International Trade Secretary/Liz Truss and  Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Moteg  Picture: APBritish International Trade Secretary/Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Moteg Picture: AP


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