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EU and Japan strike data flows deal

TOKYO (AFP) – The European Union (EU) and Japan agreed a deal yesterday on cross-border data flows that will facilitate online trade among businesses and send a strong message against “digital protectionism”, the EU said.

Signed on the sidelines of the ongoing G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Osaka, the agreement is meant to make doing online business “easier, less costly and more efficient”, the European Commission said in a statement.

Specifically, it will release businesses of “cumbersome” and “costly” administrative or data localisation requirements that have been a hindrance to companies both in Japan and Europe, the statement said.

The pact signifies “a milestone in our joint efforts to advance the digitalisation of our societies and economies”, it added.

The deal is the culmination of a year-long negotiation on data governance between Japan and the EU as part of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a 2019 trade deal. EU firms export more than EUR58 billion in goods and EUR28 billion in services to Japan annually, according to the European Commission.

The EU has already made similar data rules part of its agreement with trade partners including New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the deal with Japan sends a strong signal against “digital protectionism and unjustified measures restricting cross-border data flows”.

But at the same time, it will ensure “the highest protection of the data of our citizens”, he said, in an apparent nod to the EU’s emphasis on personal privacy.