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Japan, EU finalize free trade pact ahead of G-20 summit with Trump

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The European Union and Japan on Thursday agreed to a massive free trade pact years in the making, seen by some as a rebuke to President Trump’s protectionist policies ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany.

“Ahead of the G-20 summit tomorrow, I believe Japan and the EU are demonstrating our strong political will to fly the flag for free trade against a shift toward protectionism,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference in Brussels, according to Reuters.

Abe was joined by EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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Japan and the EU have been hammering out the trade agreement for four years, according to Reuters. But they accelerated work on the pact after Trump took office and immediately withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with 11 other countries in the Pacific region, including Japan.

EU and Japanese leaders are pushing for a final signature on the agreement in the coming months, and Juncker expressed hope that the deal could enter into force in early 2019.

The agreement creates the world’s largest open economic area and comes as world leaders prepare to meet with Trump in Hamburg on Friday and Saturday.

Trump was elected on a platform of “America first” policies and a wariness of international trade agreements, many of which he has dubbed unfair to the U.S.

The president reiterated that position on Wednesday, writing on Twitter that the U.S. has “made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history.”

Tags Donald Trump Donald Tusk European Union Japan Jean-Claude Juncker Shinzo Abe

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