Japan is the EU's seventh biggest trade partner - the European Union exports more than US$100 billion worth of goods to Japan a year - and this deal could help protect both sides from the ongoing tariff war.
Appearing as a united front, Abe, Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker "sought to establish themselves as the flag-bearers of the free world, in response to Donald Trump's show of apparent solidarity with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday", reports The Guardian.
Abe was predominantly referring to the protectionist trade policies being pushed by US President Donald Trump.
Other U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel have upset trade partners Canada, Mexico and the EU. Today's signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is a landmark moment for global trade, and I am also delighted that we have signed the first ever Strategic Partnership Agreement, which takes our cooperation to the next level.
"Right now, concerns are rising over protectionism all around the world", Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying by The Japan Times."We are sending out a message emphasizing the importance of a trade system based on free and fair rules".
The major step toward liberalising trade was discussed in talks since 2013 but is striking in the timing of the signing, as China and the U.S. are embroiled in trade conflicts.
"The economic benefits of this agreement are clear".
"If we can instill some second thoughts even, that would be a success", an European Union official said. The accord was due to be signed last week during the EU-Japan meeting in Brussels; however, the summit was canceled because of the deadly flooding in Japan.
The Trump administration is taking a hard line with major USA trading partners, so those countries are looking for opportunities elsewhere.
The Japan-EU trade agreement is expected to boost Japan's economy by about 1pc, or five trillion yen (€38bn), and add roughly 290,000 jobs in the nation, according to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The vast majority of €1 billion ($1.17 billion) worth of tariffs paid annually by European Union companies exporting to Japan and a number of longstanding regulatory barriers will be lifted thanks to the agreement. Schott says European officials started doing this because they were anxious about being left out of the giant trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which the Obama administration spearheaded. But they will bring Japanese consumers lower prices for European wines, pork, handbags and pharmaceuticals.
Other nations have retaliated against the USA by imposing their own tariffs as a countermeasure.
However, The Independent says "experts have previously suggested the United Kingdom would struggle to better the terms of the EU-Japan deal in any negotiations on its own".
Europeans should benefit, too, from lower vehicle prices.