TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese business leaders welcomed a post-Brexit free trade deal agreed by Tokyo and London on Friday, expressing hope that it will lead to an expansion of trade amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"While many countries are looking inward due to the spread of the infectious disease, (the pact) will lead to a further opening and liberalizing of trade and investment," said Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren.
Nakanishi, who is also chairman of Hitachi Ltd., said the deal to be implemented next January will improve the chance of Britain joining a trans-Pacific free trade agreement covering 11 countries, including Japan, accounting for about 13 percent of the global economy.
The deal for bilateral trade currently covered by a Japan-European Union free trade agreement, to come into effect after Britain's transition period for exiting the bloc ends in December, was agreed in principle by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss on Friday.
"It means a great deal that continuance of business between Japan and Britain will be maintained," said Kengo Sakurada, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.
Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement that the deal is "progressive" and "well-balanced," welcoming how the two countries agreed on ambitious rules for the digital sector.
Ken Kobayashi, who heads the Japan Foreign Trade Council Inc., said, "(The pact) will allow the two countries to achieve even more economic prosperity."