La storia del più grande accordo commerciale europeo

Res publica   07.07.17  

Politico racconta come è stata raggiunta l'intesa per stipulare l'ambizioso accordo di libero scambio e di partnership tra l'Unione Europea e il Giappone destinato a diventare un modello per l'ordine mondiale del ventunesimo secolo che rafforzerà le relazioni strategiche tra Bruxelles e Tokyo.

The 11th hour mission to Tokyo by Malmström and Hogan was the last big heave in negotiations that often seemed close to failure over recent years, primarily because Japan's politicians were unable to make concessions on agriculture. In part, Tokyo feared that EU farm exports would wipe out fragile rural communities inhabited predominantly by elderly farmers. But EU negotiators also complained Japan was intransigent over products such as tomatoes, chocolate and pasta, where it has no real defensive interests.

Talks had become so bogged down and embittered by the end of 2015 that Mauro Petriccione, the EU's chief negotiator, warned that Brussels could face a terminal credibility crisis if negotiations dragged on much longer without a breakthrough.

Negotiations limped on through 2016 until U.S. President Donald Trump’s election in November suddenly forged an entirely new political dynamic. In January, the protectionist president pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries. In an instant, the game had changed.

Trump's rejection of the TPP was a devastating blow to Tokyo, which had long seen the U.S. as the cornerstone of its foreign policy and the guarantor of its security in the face of Chinese naval expansion and North Korean missile launches. For weeks, Japanese officials were in denial and still held out hope that the TPP might survive.

In February, Japanese Prime Minister Abe made a last-ditch attempt to cozy up to Trump by going off to play golf with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Shortly afterward, the Japanese realized it was time to switch horses and make a big push for a European deal. Free trade is a key pillar of the prime minister's policy of "Abenomics" to jolt the economy out of decades of cryogenic stasis, and it became clear that the EU was now the most obvious partner.

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