The UK and Japan have a long-established relationship, dating back over 400 years. William Adams was the first Englishman to arrive in Japan in April 1600 and later helped establish trading factories, a very early form of free trade zones. Since those early days we have come a long way and today we are making significant progress in establishing a free trade agreement as we have left the EU and prepare for the end of the transition period.
The new trade agreement will replace current agreements made through the EU and, through this new agreement, we can work to strengthen ties. Japan is the UK’s fourth-largest non-EU trading partner, worth £31.4 billion in 2019 and as we move forward this will only increase. By securing a free-trade agreement it will provide a significant boost to companies and help create jobs in the UK including business opportunities in South Derbyshire.
By developing relations and being able to negotiate our own free-trade agreement with Japan we can secure more favourable terms and work together to secure our economic recovery after the coronavirus. We can work closely and benefit from one another in terms of textiles, financial services, areas of technology and digital development.
I have been working on this agenda for many years meeting with a Japanese Ambassador here and on a trip to Japan last October when I met Parliamentary Vice-Minister Shinichi Nakatani to discuss the strength and breadth of the UK-Japan bilateral relationships with our British Ambassador Paul Madden.
I welcome the start of these negotiations and look forward to securing a deal, building on our already close relationship to benefit businesses large and small, to boost employment and strengthen our economies.