The European Union (EU) and Japan concluded an agreement on Saturday on cross-border data flows, which should drive business and may help shape global rules for data, the European Commission said.

The European Commission said the agreement would benefit companies across a range of sectors, including financial services, transport, machinery and e-commerce, allowing them to handle data without cumbersome and costly administration.

“It will end the need to localise data, making business more efficient, all the while ensuring the highest protection of the data of our citizens,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said.

The agreement seeks to strike a balance between a freer Japanese approach and the EU’s greater stress on personal protection and privacy.

It will also prohibit restrictions of a protectionist nature, such as rules requiring localisation, while allowing authorities to intervene in matters such as cyber-security or privacy and personal data.

The two partners concluded a free trade agreement in 2015, but left open what to do about data flows. After a year of talks since October 2022, they have now filled that gap.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2023.

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