Prime Minister Abe,
I would like to start by offering once again my deepest condolences to all those who lost loved ones in the tragic floods and landslides in Western Japan. I am admiring the courage with which the Japanese people are facing this enormous challenge.
Europe stands in full solidarity with Japan. We are doing this because the EU and Japan have long been partners, friends and allies. We share the same values and the same future.
Japan and the European Union do both see the world in the same way. We believe that we can make each other stronger, safer and more prosperous when we work together in a rules-based international system.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to trade. Today's signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is a landmark moment for global trade. It brings together economies that account for a third of the world's GDP and are home to over 600 million people.
The Agreement simply makes sense. EU firms already export over EUR 58 billion in goods and EUR 28 billion in services to Japan every year. This deal has the potential to increase that by as much as 24%. It will remove the vast majority of the EUR 1 billion of duties paid every year by companies that export to Japan.
It is also good news for our agricultural sector. Duties will be scrapped for cheeses as well as on wine. It is also good for farm producers and it is opening the way for the protection of 200 European Geographical Indications that will now enjoy the same level of protection in Japan that they have in Europe.
And by the same token, Japanese products such as Kobe Beef or Yubari Melon will be protected in Europe. And for Japanese car makers it means an immediate tariff elimination of up to 4% on over 90% of Japanese car part and of all tariffs on cars within the next seven years.
This Agreement puts fairness and values at its core. It will set the template for others: it upholds the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection.
But the impact of today's agreement goes far beyond our shores. Together, we are making, by signing this Agreement, a statement about the future of free and fair trade. We are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together.
And we are leading by example, showing that trade is about more than tariffs and barriers. It is about values, principles and finding win-win solutions for all those concerned.
In the same spirit I am delighted that we have come to an agreement on adequacy. In recognising each other's data protection systems as equivalent, we will allow data to flow safely between the European Union and Japan. This will create the world's largest safe flow of data area and ensure the highest levels of data protection for the people of Japan and Europe alike.
As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism – and there is no unity where there is unilateralism.
I can assure you that neither side is a naïve free trader. We have taken our time to make sure that any agreement is fair and benefits all sides. We both know that free trade can only be fair trade if there is a level playing field and clear rules to follow.
This is why we are also working together with our Japanese friends and with others to see how we can improve global trade, in particular when it comes to tackling issues such as overcapacity and market distortions.
We are looking together to see how we can reform the World Trade Organisation. We want to rewrite the rulebook together, not to destroy it alone.
The trade we believe in is built on trust, clear rules and reliable partners. Japan has always been the most reliable of partners to Europe and I am delighted that with today's Agreement we become closer than ever before.