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News article7 October 2022Directorate-General for Trade2 min read

EU and Japan start negotiations to include rules on cross-border data flows in their Economic Partnership Agreement

The EU and Japan are likeminded democracies with a flourishing trade relationship.

The two sides have agreed to take this relationship to the next level, by launching negotiations on including rules on data flows in our Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The formal discussions will kick off on 24 October 2022 in Brussels. The digital transition is a top priority for the European Commission.  By incorporating modern digital trade rules into our agreement with Japan, we can shape the global rulebook, in the interests of our values, our consumers and our businesses.

Specifically, the provisions on cross-border data flows that we will negotiate with Japan should benefit businesses on both sides.  Our aim is to ensure cross-border data flows by prohibiting unjustified data localisation requirements, while preserving the EU’s regulatory autonomy in the area of personal and non-personal data protection and cybersecurity. 


Cross-border data flows refer to the movement of information between servers across country borders. They ensure that no matter where you are, you have access to the information and services you need. Everyone, from individuals to large corporations, relies on international data transfers. For example, banks rely heavily on the international transfer of data and manufacturers, freight operators and logistics enterprises can track and improve the performance of their machines and vehicles around the world thanks to electronic data transfers. Such transfers are also essential for consumers, for example, when booking a flight or accommodation online or accessing entertainment streaming. 

From a trade perspective, unjustified data localisation requirements can raise the cost of conducting business across borders. An example could be, mandating companies to keep data within a certain territory or making the cross-border transfer of data contingent upon the use of computing facilities or network elements in the country’s territory, for protectionist reasons. While such requirements should be prohibited, regulating data protection safeguards, including with respect to cross-border data transfers, foster the trust of consumers and as such benefit the digital economy which critically depends on such trust.

The EU-New Zealand trade agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement both include modern rules in this area which the EU also aims to agree in its ongoing bilateral trade negotiations and in the negotiations on e-commerce within the World Trade Organization. The EU has the objective to agree on similar rules with Japan, in view of their deep and dynamic economic relationship. Japan is a strategic partner of the EU in the Indo-Pacific region and its second-biggest trading partner in Asia.

The EU-Japan EPA foresees that the two sides would assess the need for the inclusion of provisions on cross-border data flows within three years of the date of entry into force of this agreement. The EU and Japan have conducted this assessment and are now ready to start formal negotiations. The first round will take place on 24 October 2022 in Brussels.

For more information

EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

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Publication date
7 October 2022
Directorate-General for Trade
Country or region
  • Japan
Trade topics
  • Negotiations and agreements