The United Kingdom on Friday agreed in principle to its first major post-Brexit free trade deal – this with Japan – which ensures 99% of British goods will enter Japan without tariffs.
If approved by both the British Parliament and the Japanese Diet, the "UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement" will come into force by the end of the year. The new deal, however, shares many similarities with the existing trade deal with Japan.
Britain's Department for International Trade hailed the deal as a "historic moment" that stands to see Britain increase its trade with Japan by $19.5 billion (£15.2 billion). International Trade Secretary Liz Truss described the deal as a "historic moment." She also said the deal will bring "new wins" for British manufacturing, food and drink and tech industries, among others.
"The agreement we have negotiated – in record time and in challenging circumstances – goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink and tech industries," said Truss.
"From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the North of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country."
She said the deal is strategically an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and placing Britain at the center of a network of free trade agreements.
While important in itself, the deal with Japan will only boost Britain's GDP by 0.07% or $1.92 billion over the long term. Japan accounts for just 2% of the UK's total trade.
The most important job for prime minister Boris Johnson now is to secure a free trade deal with the European Union. Considering no significant progress in clinching this deal has been made in eight meetings, it is now likely a "No-Deal Brexit" is the only recourse left for the UK.
British business leaders again emphasize that securing a deal with the EU is the most important task facing Johnson and his government. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) called the deal a milestone.
On the other hand, BCC director general Adam Marshall said while the agreement is undoubtedly cause for celebration, securing a Free Trade Agreement with the EU is absolutely critical to the future of businesses in the UK.
"We urge ministers to redouble their efforts to reach a comprehensive partnership with our largest trading partner at a crucial time in the negotiations," said Marshall.