Japan and the EU seal the 'political' deal for a free trade pact, creating the world's biggest open economic area and signalling resistance to what they see as the U.S.'s protectionist turn, even as Donald Trump arrived in Europe for the G20 summit. David Pollard reports.
They may be air kisses but this is fast becoming a meaningful relationship. The EU and Japan now declaring a political agreement, as the final move towards a full free trade pact. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "We promised to do everything in our power to conclude political and trade talks between Japan and the European union on the eve of the G20 summit. And we did it." For Japan too, four years of negotiations now becoming - literally - a very big deal. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE, SAYING: "Japan and the EU account for 30 percent of the GDP, 10 percent of the population and 40 percent of trade in the world, so this is the birth of the world's largest free, advanced, industrialized economic zone." Over 90 per cent of European exports to Japan to be liberalised, according to European Council president Jean-Claude Juncker. Tariffs on bilateral trade to be phased out... And markets - such as Japan's public tender system - opened up. As the two do more business. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN BUSINESS LOBBY GROUP BUSINESSEUROPE DIRECTOR, LUISA SANTOS, SAYING: "We are basically at the same level in terms of economic development. We are fast, we are highly developed economies, we are mature economies." And timing, it seems, is everything .... Coming as it does within hours of the US's president's arrival in Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES HUGHES, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, GKFX, SAYING: "The timing is very much a message to the G20, a message to Donald Trump and the US to say look these deals are being done, and we will move ahead without you if you continue this protectionist stance." The hands clasped - but soon to pick up the pen. For a final treaty signature expected in the months to come.