Convenor(s): Professor Hugh Whittaker and Dr Giulio Pugliese
Speaker(s): Dr Julie Gilson, Department of Political Science and International Studies, Reader in Asian Studies, University of Birmingham
International trade and the environment: Japan's commitment to sustainability clauses in free trade agreements
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) came into force in 2019, covering a population of around 639 million people and approximately one third of global gross domestic product. It is destined eventually to see the removal of 97% Japanese tariffs on European products and 99% European products entering Japan. One of its key features is a chapter on sustainable development, committing parties to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement and underpinning environmental standards. However, modern agreements like this one are underpinned by an anthropocentric logic, which privileges the human species and which is premised on the notion that economic progress and environmental protection can be mutually beneficial. This presentation compares Japan's participation in a number of trade agreements, in order to identify the ways in which the environment is framed and the extent to which the inclusion of sustainability clauses aligns with Japan's own pledge of ecological modernisation.
Julie Gilson is a Reader in Asian Studies at the University of Birmingham. She has written extensively on Japanese foreign policy, EU-Japan and Asia-Europe relations, Asian regionalism, and civil society in Southeast Asia. Her work now focuses on the impact of climate change in East and Southeast Asia, and East Asian approaches to climate governance.