Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 33

GLOBAL CENTRE STAGE on immigration and Japan trying to remain largely closed to immigration, both regions can nevertheless learn from each other and can exchange best practices. Further areas of common interest comprise climate change and sustainable development. The importance of the EU-Japan EPA is, last but not the least, rooted in the efforts of both partners to counteract a loss of signifi cance in both economic and political terms. The EU regards the agreement as a vehicle to strengthen its position in the Pacifi c Rim, where China is gaining more and more infl uence. The EU intends to use the EU- Japan EPA as a strategical instrument to strengthen its position in the whole South-East Asian region, which is of high importance both economically and politically. For Japan, the EU-Japan EPA is seen as a way to strengthen further global partnerships in times when the economic and security policy of its closest ally, the United States, becomes more unpredictable. After the election of US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the fi rst high ranking foreign politician to visit the US in order to establish a relationship with the new President. This is a clear sign that Japan seeks to keep good relations with the US. However, President Trump’s unpredictable reactions and policy changes have forced Japan to strengthen other global partnerships in an effort to fi nd alte rnative strategic partners who share common goals. In addition, the EU-Japan EPA is seen by both partners as a way to show commitment to international economic integration and to counter a global tendency towards protectionism. The EU-Japan EPA comes at a time when some countries, especially the US, are adopting increasingly protectionist policies. The withdrawal of the United States from the Transpacifi c Trade and Investment Partnership (a trade accord of now 11 Pacifi c states),the de facto suspension of the negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, Canada and the US, as well as the recently introduced protectionist tariffs of up to 50 per cent on US-imports of washing machines and solar panels illustrate this increasing protectionist tendency. The EU-Japan EPA EU Trade is intended to counteract this development Commissioner not only in terms of actual economic policy Cecilia but also as a symbolic statement that proves Malmstrom with Foreign the commitment of both partners to free trade Minister Fumio and international cooperation. Kishida at EU headquarters in The changing global political situation Brussels has forced the EU and Japan to seek ways to counteract a loss of economic and political relevance. The EU is reaching out to Japan in an effort to strengthen its position in Asia and try to fi ll the vacuum that the policy changes under American President Trump have generated. Japan’s commitment to the agreement follows the same logic and is rooted in the efforts of the Japanese government to establish new partnerships beyond the Japan-USA political relationship. While the EU will, of course, not be able to compensate for America’s engagement in the security policy for this region, it can nevertheless become a much more important partner in terms of economic cooperation than it is now. Despite the remaining challenges, the conclusion of the EU-Japan EPA can already now be considered a success. There is no doubt that the economic and political opportunities associated with it are huge. *Michael Frenkel is Professor of International Economics, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar/Koblenz, Germany Benedikt Walter is Research Assistant, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Mangement, Vallendar/Germany. Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida • 31