Update on EU trade and investment negotiations: Japan, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico

On July 17, 2018, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the Japan–European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA). Negotiations had been finalized in December 2017. Signature will be followed by ratification procedures both at EU level and in Japan.

Given that investment protection and investor­–state dispute settlement (ISDS) were left out of the JEEPA, legal problems at the EU level and political opposition in EU member states may be avoided. The EC expects the agreement to enter into force in early 2019.

While not included in the JEEPA, investment continues to be negotiated between the two partners. On July 11, 2018, the chief negotiators of both partners acknowledged a “large degree of convergence on investment protection standards,” but noted that certain positions still need to be reconciled, particularly regarding dispute settlement. The European Union is committed to advancing its Investment Court System (ICS) proposal, but Japan is reportedly unwilling to agree.

The EC announced on June 26, 2018 that the legal review of its free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam has been completed, paving the way for signature, conclusion and ratification of the agreement. Negotiations of the FTA, which includes ICS, had been finalized in December 2015 and published the text in February 2016.

The EC launched negotiations of FTAs including investment chapters with Australia and New Zealand, respectively, on June 18 and 21, 2018. The Council of the European Union published the mandates given to the EC on June 25, 2018. The mandates do not include ISDS. The first rounds of negotiations with both countries were completed in July.

On April 21, 2018, the European Union and Mexico reached an agreement in principle on a modernized 1997 EU–Mexico Global Agreement. The texts, published on April 26, reveal that it is the fourth EU agreement to include ICS, following those with Canada, Singapore and Vietnam.

The EC publishes and periodically updates an overview of its trade negotiations.