Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk at the end of a EU-JAPAN summit in Brussels, Belgium July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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Japan and the European Union agreed on Thursday to a free trade pact, creating the world's biggest open economic area and signalling resistance to what they see as U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist turn.In the works for four years, it has been pushed over the line towards a final treaty signature in the coming months by the election of Trump and his moves to ditch a Pacific trade pact that included Japan and leave talks with the EU in limbo.Fears of cheaper import competition for European carmakers and Japanese dairy producers were among the thorniest issues, but officials said the two sides were driven by a shared alarm at Trump's apparent shift away from multilateral open trading systems towards an aggressive "America First" policy.Tariffs on much of their bilateral trade -- which Abe noted accounts for some 40 percent of total world commerce -- will be phased out over some years and other economic areas, such as Japan's public tender system, will be opened up.Scotch whisky might not benefit from such a deal, however, as Britain is due to leave the EU in 2019 .
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