back to article UK and Japan agree to free trade deal that excludes data localisation requirements

The UK and Japan have agreed to a new trade deal that will see the two nations to share a “free flow of data” across their borders. Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese foreign minister, and the UK’s trade secretary, Liz Truss, confirmed that they had agreed to a deal in principle on Friday morning. The deal is expected to be …

  1. Symon Silver badge
    Devil

    The UK is a nation?

    A nation made up of four (or maybe more) other nations? As Karl Deutsch said, a nation :- "a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours". Correct enough then. --->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK is a nation?

      the UK is NOT a nation. Well, unless you're English but hey, don't blame them, takes ages to shake off this imperial delusion. The French still feel this phantom limb too ;)

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The UK is a nation?

        If the UK is a single nation, then why does it have more than one national football or rugby team?

        1. MudFever

          Re: The UK is a nation?

          ...and cricket.

          We did invent those sports, so we, the four nations that make up the UK, can decide the rules that best suit us.

          1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: The UK is a nation?

            We did invent those sports, so we, the four nations that make up the UK, can decide the rules that best suit us.

            It might be best not to mention that to the Ireland national rugby union team.

            1. SundogUK Silver badge

              Re: The UK is a nation?

              The Ireland rugby team is not the Republic of Ireland national team. Membership is open to players from north and south.

              1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: The UK is a nation?

                The Ireland rugby team is not the Republic of Ireland national team. Membership is open to players from north and south.

                Exactly so. So Ireland is one of the "the four nations that make up the UK"?

                The official name of the "Ireland rugby team" does seem to be the Ireland national rugby union team.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheese

    I may have missed it but you don’t seem to have mentioned the great deal the UK achieved in agreeing no or low tariffs on cheese to a predominantly lactose intolerant country.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Cheese

      The deal already had plenty of provisions for cheese - with tariffs falling to ( if I remember correctly ) zero by 2033.

      So Japan clearly has a domestic cheese market otherwise they wouldn't have import tariffs on cheese.

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Cheese

        So Japan clearly has a domestic cheese market otherwise they wouldn't have import tariffs on cheese.

        The UK exported 434 tonnes of cheese to Japan in 2019, up 90% on the previous year, and worth £102,000. This was an absolutely whopping 0.2% of UK cheese exports.

        Tariffs on hard cheeses (the bulk) are 29% and these, with quotas and tariffs for other kinds of cheeses, will reduce to zero over the next, err, 13 years.

        1. localzuk

          Re: Cheese

          I think the Co-op in my village sells more cheese than that.

        2. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: Cheese

          How much is Liz Truss' salary again?

          £80k for being an MP + £80k for being secretary of trade?

          So her personal "win" is worth less to the UK than her salary.

          Not to say there isn't other stuff involved, I'm sure she works very hard etc, but hailing this rounding error in trade as a win seems... desperate? Clutching at straws to overstate how good it is?

          TBF, I haven't seen officials *themselves* mentioning the cheese specifically as a win, only the forever over-keen sensationalist press.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Cheese

            "£80k for being an MP + £80k for being secretary of trade?"

            And she still can't afford Public Speaking lessons!

    2. Symon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Cheese

      "cheese ... lactose intolerance" Stick to the hard stuff! E.g. cheddar cheese is low in lactose.

      "Well, er, then you steal some cheese, Brie or Camembert, or Cheddar or Gouda, if you're on the harder stuff. You might go and see one of the blue cheese films... there's a big clock in the middle of the room, and about 12:50 you climb up it and then... eventually, it strikes one and you all run down."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheese

      > cheese to a predominantly lactose intolerant country.

      I bet you felt real smart with this fact lifted from the lofty big brain BBC comments section but...

      If you had ever come to Japan you would know that despite the Japanese getting the shits just from looking at a picture of a cow they seem to be suckers for punishment and consume a ton of milk, cheese etc. They are so into getting a runny bottom that they still have services that deliver dairy products to your door like the milkman used to over in blighty.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cheese

        Japanese that want to consume dairy take lactase supplements...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cheese

          >Japanese that want to consume dairy take lactase supplements...

          My wife is Japanese and all of her family are Japanese and we live in Japan with our crop of half Japanese kids for ~15 years.

          We all eat cheese, drink milk etc etc. None of us take lactase supplements. To be honest I would be surprised if most Japanese know about dairy apparently being like kryptonite to them... you would have thought the lactase supplements would be right next to the piles of milk and dairy products at the supermarket but I've never seen that.

          What I love about people saying "She got a deal for cheese, they can't even eat cheese!!" is that it's so big brain that it's the sort of thing that comes out the same brain as mouth foaming rants about brexiters being racists... the irony being they expose themselves of having no idea of other races outside of what they've taken literally from the internet.

    4. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Cheese

      Your assertion that the Japanese population is predominantly lactose intolerant may come as a bit of surprise to Meiji, established in 1917, which sells a hell of a lot of dairy products in Japan. They have not got a centuries old dairy farming tradition like other countries, but that doesn’t mean they can tolerate it.

      Similarly they’ve not got a centuries old tradition of beef farming or even having meat in their diet, but Wagyu is widely seen as the best beef in the world. And, whilst it’s true that there is a genetic factor behind their common inability to metabolise alcohol as other populations can, it’s far from being a universal trait.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Cheese

        For, "but that doesn’t mean they can tolerate it", please read "but that doesn’t mean they can't tolerate it". Ruddy autocorrect...

    5. bladster

      Re: Cheese

      Blessed are the cheese makers

  3. JohnMurray

    Didn't...

    ...the Japan/EU "deal" effectively say: "if you give/get a better deal with another, we want the same" ?

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Didn't...

      I dealt with Domino's by giving them £20 and getting two 12" pizza's. Later I dealt with a mugger who took the pizzas but I managed to bite his ear off. Following that I returned to Domino's and offered them what I considered to be a better deal. They politely refused.

      The UK's deal with Japan has consideration on both sides and is arguably not an improvement to their EU deal. Therefore they cannot be compared.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Didn't...

        Although the "free flow" of data between the UK and Japan might have ramifications with any future EU trade agreement.

  4. Screwed

    "The British government has said that the deal will bring in £15bn in trade between the UK and Japan, but hasn't said when the cash will flow."

    We have become accustomed to interpreting such statements with these rules:

    First, assume the headline figure would, at best, be over a period of many years, often ten or more. Think trickle rather than flood.

    Second, assume the money will flow primarily in one direction. Probably not the direction you want.

    Third, assume that the majority of the deal is not new. Often only continuing what is already extant.

    Fourth, look for any other ways in which such a figure could have been inflated or is misleading.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Yes, Sir Humphrey.

    2. I am the liquor Bronze badge

      Since the deal is basically replicating what we already had as a member of the EU, presumably what they really mean is they've managed to avoid a £15bn dive in trade that they expect would have happened if we'd had to revert to WTO rules.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        No, they've improved on the Japan/EU deal, albeit with Japan getting more of the benefits than the UK.

        However that doesn't negate the fact that this is a better deal with Japan than the EU managed. Better. Improved. A step up.

        Which is nice.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The most betterly bettery best deal ever , or at least since the one we signed with the Faroes. Just don't look too hard for actual betterness, but sometime soon it will be world beating.

        2. CliveS

          "However that doesn't negate the fact that this is a better deal with Japan than the EU managed."

          Better for Japan, as it includes the elements on digital services and products that it wanted including in its deal with the EU. It's worth about 0.07% of UK GDP, so financially and economically insignificant. And there are areas where the absence of a UK-EU deal would have a detrimental effect on trade with Japan. What is important is that it effectively retains the status quo that Anglo-Japanese trade had under the EU-Japan deal. It potentially aids in our signing up to the CPTPP in the longer term, though our government's cavalier approach to negotiations as evidence by the Internal Markets Act may make signing up more difficult, our "trustworthiness" appearing suspect.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Better for both parties, unless you're a mercantilist and believes that imports are a necessary evil rather than a good thing.

            1. CliveS

              "Better for both parties, unless you're a mercantilist and believes that imports are a necessary evil rather than a good thing."

              On balance, Japan gets more that it wanted over-and-above its agreement with the EU. 2 gains for the UK are in terms of cumulation and rules of origin, making British exports to Japan that have a lot of EU parts in them count as goods originating from the U.K.; and allows the U.K. to apply for up to 70 geographical indications (GIs) on special products instead of the current 7. There is some potential in the financial licensing and investment elements, though detail there is sadly lacking.

              On the flip side of the cumulation and rules of origin benefit, the UK is reliant on the outcome of negotiations with the EU to determine the impact on UK exports to the EU containing a significant volume of Japanese components. And that area has a knock on impact on the ability of Japanese car and rail firms in the UK to export to the EU, which is important given that 54.8% of UK manufactured cars built for export are exported to the EU (compared with 3.2% to Japan). Looking at exporting trains, the UK sits a long way behind China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Our biggest railway related exports are in tracks, signals and fixing.

              Fundamentally though, the deal is pretty much as we had before we left the EU. And is small in value. It's an independent trade deal - for which we should be thankful - but anyone trying to big up its significance (other than the symbolic) is being disingenuous.

              And no, I'm not a mercantilist , just a realist.

              1. Cederic Silver badge

                Liz Truss made a lot of its symbolism while announcing it in Parliament this afternoon. She also feels it's an important stepping stone towards participation in a regional trade deal in that part of the world, and I think I heard her say that Japan have agreed to promote the UK's involvement.

                So no steps back, one small step forward, and maybe a stepping stone towards a big leap up. I'm inclined to feel positive about this one.

        3. nsld

          'However that doesn't negate the fact that this is a better deal with Japan than the EU managed. Better. Improved. A step up.'

          It is if your Japanese.

          The £15 Billion is made up of 80% imports from Japan and 20% exports to Japan, and thanks to the tariff reduction structures will allow the Japanese to close all UK car and train manufacturing and instead import from Japan at the end of the next investment cycle (3 to 4 years)

          The deal is symbolic, bit like the UK-US open skies which gave a veto to the US over UK airlines, something it didn't have in EU-US open skies.

          Japan played a blinder, closed the first round of the talks with a take it or leave it offer and Truss had no choice but to grab the shit end of the stick with both hands to get a 'win' on the books.

          Every single 'plus' thats been spoken about is minor in comparison to the negatves of the deal.

          Its notable that every continuity deal done so far is materially worse for the UK than the deal it replaces, even the Faroe Islands stitched us up like a kipper.

          Welcome to Trade Weight, we aren't negotiating as the 800lb Gorilla with a machine gun anymore

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Everybody does this.

      For example Oxfam's declarations on poverty never include what is already being done - for example, if we didn't have housing benefits, millions would be homeless. Therefore the UK has a homeless epidemic and action must be taken now.

    4. Killing Time

      Probably best not break out the champers quite yet. This is 'a deal in principle' right? No actual signatures?

      We need to get their signature on a bit of paper to hold them to account while we raise internal legislation to 'dis-apply' the bits we don't like. I'm sure our Japanese 'friends' will see the reasonableness of this, particularly if we say we were under pressure due to a self imposed deadline.

      They are reasonable people who are bound to accept our rationale.

      Then we can break the party hats out....

  5. 0laf Silver badge

    Meh, jam tomorrow

    EU had already recognised Japan as having a data protection regime that met its adequacy requirements so there were never any barriers to data sharing with Japanese hosted systems anyway.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Meh, jam tomorrow

      "so there were never any barriers to data sharing with Japanese hosted systems"

      Correct, but in the case of personal data there could be as soon as the UK becomes a Third Country without an adequacy decision. Japan waited a couple of years for one, and there were no serious barriers, unlike in the UK where, just for example, national security legislation and some clauses of the DPA 2018 may prove significantly problematic.

      However this report appears to deal with more than personal data. For non-personal data there are pretty much no general regulatory requirements to consider other than those embodied in treaties and contracts, so you're quite right.

  6. Thomas PinkOne

    Deal worth £15-30billion

    So, almost one third of a Covid mooonshot?

    Meh

  7. ExampleOne

    The deal is the first negotiated by the UK alone after Brexit and is being hailed as a template for the many such deals to come once the nation completely and utterly departs the EU and is no longer bound by the bloc's existing deals.

    So the template for UK trade deals is "roll over an EU one with a few tweaks"?

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      ... and hope the other side still takes us seriously without the backing of the world's 2nd largest economy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        2nd?

        China?

        The EU is not a single economy. Though people like to pretend it is for convenience or for show.

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: 2nd?

          The EU, when it acts as one, is a superpower.

          If it ever manages to grow a spine, that is. (see GDPR and safe harbour)

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: 2nd?

          "The EU is not a single economy. Though people like to pretend it is for convenience or for show."

          You could say the same thing about the USA, Canada, or anywhere else that is a confederation of states with some level of autonomy from their federal government. Germany and Italy, while being part of the EU are relatively new countries with some very independent-minded states/regions. The EU is not a federated nation (yet!) but is effectively so in many respects.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But this is the point

      The point of Brexit is, after all to "return control" of Britain's affairs to the Civil Service. All the work which was being done by EU officials will now be done by civil servants, necessitating large increases in staffing at the Foreign Office, and securing plenty of high-paid jobs. It will also increase the prestige of the Permanent Secretary, as they will have more people under them, which is the main point of the civil service.

      Photocopying the EU's work and sending that in just leaves more time for watching cricket and nice long lunches.

      Parliament? What does that have to do with actually running the country?

      1. Glen 1 Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: But this is the point

        I dunno, given some of the high profile resignations in the Civil Service, there are at least *some* people for whom integrity isn't just marketing BS.

        Of course those people are no longer in the Civil Service, so....

      2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Re: But this is the point

        "necessitating large increases in staffing at the Foreign Office"

        You were under the impression that they ever got rid of the positions that fulfilled those tasks previously?

    3. Oddlegs

      So the template for UK trade deals is "roll over an EU one with a few tweaks"?

      You say that as though it's a bad thing?

      Nobody was complaing about the Japan trade deal before Brexit became a thing. Since we don't have the luxury of time at the moment it would strike me that the obvious tactic should be to request duplicates of any EU deals. Any renegotiation can always happen later.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The obvious tactic to achieving vibrant international trade would probably have involved not picking deliberate fights with your closest neighbours who happen to be your major trade partners and actually have heft as negotiating partners.

        1. Oddlegs

          Well yes but we are where we are. Brexit's happened, we're not in the EU anymore. I'd welcome a campaign to rejoin but in the meantime we can either cry about it and do nothing or try to get as many 'reasonable' trade deals in place as quickly as possible. Given that we voted for them originally I'm going to assume that the trade deals the EU currently has are 'reasonable' for us so simply duplicating them is the obvious approach.

        2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          "major trade partners" indeed, the UK is a big export market for French wine and German cars. And as has been reported many times, the exporters are nervous.

      2. I am the liquor Bronze badge

        Re: request duplicates of any EU deals

        And we should think ourselves lucky if we get it, given that what we're offering in return is about 15% of what the EU trade negotiators had to offer when they were making those deals.

    4. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      "So the template for UK trade deals is "roll over an EU one with a few tweaks"?"

      So, yes: kinda the same as before.

      But with sovereignty. And no contribution to the EU budget.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All your data are belong to us.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incomprehensible....

    Quote: "...would not mandate disclosure of source code of their software or algorithms, or share encryption information..."

    *

    "software or algorithms" which belong to exactly which body? GCHQ? Or stuff owned by Facebook (and cracked by GCHQ)? Or does it mean that GCHQ has cracked SWIFT and won't share? What does this quote mean?

    *

    I bet there's PLENTY of sharing with the so called "Five Eyes". So does this mean that Japan isn't part of the club?

    *

    But thank goodness it means nothing to law-abiding private individuals who are using their own private ciphers to protect themselves from taxpayer funded snooping.

    *

    1hoB0ryY0F2$0Onv0FCt0Pdw0ZGp0Ai91Y=X0O7S

    1lNL1XxG0GwP1N6p0Gdd03yw1jnl0kGC1jo$1DJv

    0wgb0otI0LLn0cRU11Zs090l0xi40C$n0cvI16uA

    0jvR0Lni117N07Y91K5X0evp1hg=0gHa1SqR1kyE

    1HtG0i2O1OGn16e11LiP1al31CX71P5O0BHU1Idh

    0JE11dWJ1It00lYq0EJR0ZYP1a5416OY13lX1EQ4

    1abg0ZDL0Ieu1dqq1Ggh0D8J02Vm0aFr11tG0FaE

    0MDs0cJT1NNM1k0w0VCX1GfB0vge1C601eLH1GT4

    0oJG1kMq16Rx1XaD1A7h1YBt1lkW1CDT0C0Q0r97

    1QFo16071XMv0yVn1I3a1RHd1FF90TVc0GBd01FG

    0r3o0VFq0xwP0yY=1i1G0eZL1Rqc0tEw1NCO09vq

    0eyq17Fb1gcH0Q0v00Q80qrG10cl14Ua1ctI0bwm

    0ykc0r44098D0WFG1VyH0xG90sPx0vJS0MAQ03bz

    0yju0AyO0bsm1luV1Cww0XRp0RGt0viT1mNq

    *

  10. codejunky Silver badge

    Nice

    Got to start somewhere.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Nice

      Is that 4 people who dont want to trade with Japan?

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