British pharma responds to free trade agreement between UK and Japan

The ABPI has said that the new UK-Japan free trade agreement will benefit the pharma industry, providing continuity for life science businesses.

UK and Japan flags - trade deal

The pharmaceutical industry in the UK has responded to the country’s newly secured free trade agreement with Japan. According to the UK government, this is the country’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation following Brexit and will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion.

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu.

The government says the deal is tailored to the UK economy and secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage. British businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99 percent of exports.

According to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), under the agreement, the UK and Japan will incorporate the functions of the existing EU/Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for medicines which will see both sides continue to accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export. Having an MRA in place avoids unnecessary duplication, disruption to supply chains or delays to patient access to medicine.

Claire Machin, Head of International Policy at the ABPI said: “The UK-Japan agreement provides much-needed continuity to businesses in our sector as they focus on preparations for the end of the [Brexit] transition period. These early deals are an opportunity for the government to set out a future trade agenda which supports innovative British industries, encourages R&D investment and strengthens the UK’s role as a leader in life sciences. We look forward to working with them to achieve that in future agreements.”

The ABPI says that in 2019, the UK exported £23.3 billion worth of pharmaceutical goods. 3.3 percent (£0.76 billion) of this was to Japan, making pharmaceutical products the third-highest good in value terms exported from the UK to Japan.