Japan and the European Union signed a wide-ranging free trade deal on Tuesday that both sides hope will act as a counterweight to the protectionist forces unleashed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The ambitious trade pact, which creates the world’s largest open economic area, comes amid fears that a trade war between the United States and China will diminish the role of free trade in the global economic order.
“There are rising concerns about protectionism, but I want Japan and the EU to lead the world by bearing the flag of free trade,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference after the signing ceremony. . . .
The Japan-EU trade deal is also a sign of shifting global ties as Trump distances the United States from long-time allies like the EU, NATO and Canada.
“We are sending a clear message that we stand against protectionism. The EU and Japan remain open for cooperation,” European Council President Donald Tusk, who speaks for the 28 EU national leaders, told reporters.