Trade for prosperity

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) includes digital and data provisions that not only go far beyond those found in the EU-Japan FTA, but also outpace the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in key areas.

The Secretary of State for International Trade met her Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Hayashi, in February 2022 to hold the inaugural Ministerial Joint Committee of CEPA. Ministers discussed how to build on the strong foundations of CEPA and agreed to establish deeper cooperation on digital trade and digitisation, plus post-COP26 climate goals and clean-energy transition.

Joint digital market 

CEPA provisions on the protection of source code, banning data localisation, upholding the principles of net neutrality, open government data and certification all serve to bring together two of the world’s most technologically advanced nations into a joint digital market, engineered to foster growth and innovation across both countries. 

The twin advantage of the CEPA approach is that it will create new opportunities for UK tech and digitally savvy firms to export to Japan, while also attracting greater investment into the UK from Japan’s leading digital industry, supporting a digital sector that employed an estimated 1.6 million people across the UK in 2019, an increase of 20.6% from 2018. 

Shared commitments 

CEPA commits the UK and Japan to: 

  • Avoiding unjustified restrictions on the free flow of data between the UK and Japan, giving business the assurance they need that they can collect, process, and transfer data between the two countries, without facing unnecessary red tape. 
  • Encouraging the release of anonymised government datasets where appropriate. Facilitating public access to these valuable datasets will create opportunities for British businesses to build innovative new products and foster economic and social development.
  • Data localisation prohibitions which ensure that neither Party will unnecessarily require the use or location of computing facilities in a Party’s territory as a condition of market access. This will prevent British businesses from having the extra cost of setting up servers in Japan.

Digital and data protections 

CEPA provides comprehensive protections for software, algorithms, and encryption technologies. Innovators can be confident that their products will not be undermined by unjustified requests for the disclosure of their trade secrets to state authorities. 

The agreement includes an additional commitment to uphold world-leading standards of protection for individuals’ data when it is being transferred across borders. This means that individuals can be sure that their data is being handled responsibly and securely. 

CEPA also contains a commitment to ensure open internet access as a means of developing an open, secure and trustworthy online environment which will enable development of innovative technologies and the protection of users of online services. 

DIT has agreed to strengthen commitments to protect consumers engaged in electronic commerce by prohibiting fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online. The UK and Japan affirmed their commitment to cooperate on online commercial activities, helping to ensure that consumers are covered by high standards in online consumer protection. 

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