EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Part of Food Advertising (Protection of Children from Targeting) – in the House of Commons at 2:40 pm on 26th June 2018.

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Photo of George Hollingbery George Hollingbery Minister of State (International Trade) 2:40 pm, 26th June 2018

I have already taken up nine minutes of the House’s time, so if the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I shall make a little progress.

The treatment of UK services suppliers will be fairer as a result of the EPA and comparable to that of Japanese suppliers. That is good news for UK priority sectors such as finance, postal, telecommunications and maritime.

The National Health Service, which was discussed considerably as part of the heated debate—as were, indeed, public services generally—is a national treasure. I know all too well the importance that fellow Members and, indeed, the population of the United Kingdom place on the need to safeguard the NHS for generations to come. I share that view and wish to be clear with the House that the delivery of public health services is safeguarded in the trade-in-services aspects of all EU free trade agreements, including the EU-Japan EPA. For the avoidance of doubt, for the UK that incontrovertibly includes the NHS in this agreement.

Although investment protection is not featured in the agreement, investment liberalisation provisions will help to improve market access for British companies. Right hon. and hon. Members should note that the EU and Japan will continue to engage to negotiate a stand-alone investment protection agreement.

For the first time in an EU trade agreement, there is a dedicated chapter on corporate governance, which sees the EU and Japan reaffirm their commitment to the OECD principles on corporate governance. The UK played a key role in agreeing those principles at the 2015 G20 summit. The House should be clear that the inclusion of corporate governance provisions in the EPA does not unduly limit the UK’s ability to act further in this area at national or international level.

The agreement explicitly refers to our commitment to labour rights and environmental standards, and neither party will seek to reduce such thresholds to boost trade.