Pharma industry representatives in the UK have welcomed a new trade deal agreement with Japan which will allow pharmaceutical companies to continue trading largely as they do now after January 1 next year.

The government announced that it has secured a free trade agreement with Japan, marking the UK's first major trade deal as an independent trading nation, which it claims will increase trade with country by an estimated £15.2 billion.

According to the government, 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 in a number of areas”.

Critically, as part of the deal, the UK and Japan will incorporate the functions of the existing EU/Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for medicines, so that both sides can continue to accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export.

The ABPI has welcomed the move as having an MRA in place “avoids unnecessary duplication, disruption to supply chains or delays to patient access to medicine”.

In response to the agreement, 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.”

Last year the UK exported £23.3 billion worth of pharmaceutical goods, 3.3% (£0.76 billion) of which went to Japan, “making pharmaceutical products the third-highest good in value terms exported from the UK to Japan,” the Association noted.