The opportunities emerging for the UK and Japan as their economic partnership evolves beyond Brexit were explored during the launch of a new Asia House report exploring this key bilateral relationship.
‘Japan-UK Relations After Brexit: Looking Towards a Closer Economic Partnership’ brought leading business and policy figures together to discuss the new report, which sets out a range of recommendations to help further the relationship.
In a keynote address, His Excellency Hajime Hayashi, Japanese Ambassador to the UK, said there was “great scope for bilateral cooperation,” and reaffirmed Japan’s support of UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
“Japan welcomes the UK’s formal request for accession,” he said. “Though individual member states have to be consulted, Japan – as it takes up the presidency of the CPTPP Commission this year – is ready to play its part.”
Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, UK Government, also shared his thoughts on the relationship, emphasising the innovative elements of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), concluded between the UK and Japan in 2020.
“We will together raise the bar for trade worldwide in the 21st century, building on high standards and modern rules,” he said during a pre-recorded address. “I absolutely encourage both Japanese and UK businesses to take full advantage of the benefits that this ground-breaking agreement brings.”
The conference also heard views from Takehiko Nakao, Former Vice Minister for Finance and International Affairs, Japan, and Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Chairman, Asia House, during a high-level discussion with Asia House Chief Executive Michael Lawrence.
Nakao identified opportunities for strategic collaboration in the Indo-Pacific, given the geopolitical fault lines emerging in the region amid US-China tensions. “There should be room for cooperation,” he said, including on shared challenges such as climate change.
Lord Green highlighted Southeast Asia as an area where UK-Japan cooperation can play a positive role. “There is a huge infrastructure need throughout ASEAN, and Asia House has done remarkable work on explaining the enormous opportunities,” he said, echoing one of the recommendations in the report which cites London and Tokyo’s services sectors and finance pools as potential drivers of Asian infrastructure.
The report was also unpacked by Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory at Asia House and author of the report, who was joined by Yoshinori Katayama, President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the UK; Sir Stephen Gomersall, Adviser to the CEO, Hitachi Europe; Minako Morita-Jaeger, Fellow, UK Trade Policy Observatory; and Gerard Lyons, Senior Fellow, Policy Exchange.
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