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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and European Council President Donald Tusk, right, after their joint press conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 17, 2018 (AP photo by Koji Sashara).

Japan’s Deal With the EU Is a Big Win for the Multilateral Trade Regime

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Earlier this month, Japan and the European Union concluded a mega-free trade deal that, when ratified, is expected to provide significant benefits to both sides. But as important as the economics of the deal is its symbolism, demonstrating a commitment to an international trade regime that has been passing through a zone of turbulence over the past year, largely due to arcane protectionist measures from the Trump administration. The U.S. has imposed large tariffs and threatened more on a wide range of products and countries, including allies such as Japan, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Washington’s turn to protectionism in its bilateral trade relations has been exacerbated by the current administration’s aversion to multilateral trade deals, which President Donald Trump has demonized as “unfair” to American interests. The most salient examples of this so far have been the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, and its sharp-edged negotiations with Mexico and Canada over updating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. ...

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