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The United Kingdom and Japan future in international trade - building a platform for dialogue between the two nations’ businesses, level of standard-setting, principles and policy

30 Apr 2021


Global Britain - following Brexit, Britain needs to increase total non-EU trade to offset the UK-EU Trade reduction. Reports and studies have suggested that Britain has to increase its trade with Japan by 107%, as one of the countries to trade with. US (15%), China (42%), India (140%), Canada (151%), and Australia (186%) are the other nations where the reduced EU trade requires significantly increased effort to offset the reduction. Until mid-2020, Japan and UK trade restated the status quo. The UK government needed to ensure continuity in trade and investment beyond the end of London’s transition period out of EU – and a deal with Japan, not only securing c£15.2 billion of trade overtime but lifting tariffs and limitations in doing business.

The UK signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan on 23rd October 2020. This Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) maintains the benefits of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with enhancements in mutual interest areas. Financial services firms, food producers, coat-makers, biscuit bakers and cheese producers will benefit from the agreement, which represents an "important step" towards Britain joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in the Asia-Pacific region. Major Japanese investors in the UK, such as Nissan and Hitachi, will benefit from reduced tariffs on parts from Japan and streamlined regulatory procedures in doing business in the UK. The joint signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in October 2020 marks a new era in British-Japanese relations, ensuring a closer alliance of two like-minded democracies, both committed to free trade and prosperity.  It also marks a significant step closer to the UK joining the Comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade area. Bringing together two of the world’s most technologically advanced nations with an agreement tailored to both economies will see benefits for digital and data work, financial services, food and drink and the creative industries. The increased competitiveness of both nations will attract further investment to London and Tokyo, helping both countries thrive in the aftermath of the worldwide pandemic.

The UK and Japanese governments both say they see stronger bilateral relationships and the UK membership of the CPTPP as in their mutual interest. The UK has a clear economic interest in sustaining more robust trade and economic relationships with the EU/Japan – keeping that relationship strong serves corporate UK and Japan’s economic interests. The Institute of Directors has a role here in promoting the United Kingdom and London by developing deeper relations in Financial Services, Foreign Direct Investment, Digital, Transport, Technology and more. The Institute of Directors has created a platform to connect small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK and Japan, which by promoting bilateral international trade will benefit both countries.

Our recent meeting with the Keizai Doyukai (The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, aka Doyukai) is a testimony to IoD supporting international trade between the UK and Japan. IoD UK and Japan Business Workgroup is inviting IoD Members, who are either doing business or  interested in doing business in UK and Japan across financial services, food production, engineering, creative arts, and technology sectors, to join our upcoming events. The IoD will contribute to business policies and standards-setting between the two nations. 

Doyukai is a private, non-profit, nonpartisan organisation founded in 1946. Its membership comprises approximately 1,400 senior executives of some 1,000 corporations, all sharing the common belief that corporate managers should be key players in formulating solutions for a broad range of political, economic, and social issues. Over the years Doyukai has solidified its leadership role in improving the Japanese economic community, seeking solutions for numerous domestic problems, and ensuring the overall wellbeing of Japanese society. Doyukai maintains an independent stance supported by its studies and research. 

Through IoD and Doyukai’s active participation with business leaders, the business workgroup will host a series of knowledge-sharing events, conferences and tools for members across the two organisations to benefit from increasing international trading opportunities. This will include thought leadership studies and leading dialogue between the two nations and the two nations’ businesses on standard-setting principles and policy and engaging with the UK and Japanese governments on the views of business. David Stringer-Lamarre, IoD Special Advisor International and Managing Director, Fortis Consulting London Ltd. and Indranil Nath, Fellow of Institute of Directors, are the Co-Chairs of the IoD UK-Japan Business Workgroup. Indranil is also a member of the IoD International Trade Special Interest Group Chaired by Andrew Lambert, Managing Director of Electronic Media Services. 

Contributor: Dr Indranil Nath, Fellow Institute of Directors and Co-Chair, IoD Japan and UK Business Workgroup, and member of the leadership team, International Trade Special Interest Group, Central London Branch, London Region

This article is presented by IoD Central London International Trade Special Interest Group Chaired by Andrew Lambert, Managing Director of Electronic Media Services. 

If you have a topic you’d like to be discussed or would like to contribute please contact Andrew Lambert

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