Research and Technology

15.09.20

UK-Japan trade agreement to bolster pharmaceutical industry

As part of a wide-reaching future trade deal struck between the UK Government and Japan last week, pharmaceutical companies from both countries will be able to largely continue to operate as normal come January 1, 2021.

With the UK set to exit the European Union at the end of the year, a number of new trade agreements with international partners are being struck to ensure the UK is largely unaffected economically. This includes aspects of the deals which directly impact the health and pharmaceutical industries.

In 2019, the UK exported £23.3bn worth of pharmaceutical goods.

Japan received 3.3% of those goods, to a value of £760m, making pharmaceutical goods the third-highest good in terms of value exported between the UK and Japan.

Crucially, as part of the newly-agreed Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, the UK and Japan will incorporate the functions of the existing EU/Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for medicines, meaning both sides will 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.

In response to the agreed deal, 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 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."

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