The EPA was signed at the EU-Japan summit in Tokyo by Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The trade agreement, which could be in place in 2019, is the biggest ever negotiated by the EU and will create an open trade zone covering more than 600m people.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said the document is much more than a trade agreement.
“It is of course a tool that will create opportunities for our companies, our workers and our citizens and that will boost the European and Japanese economies,” Juncker said.
“But it is also a statement. For its content, its scope and also its timing. It is a statement by two likeminded partners that together represent nearly a third of the world's GDP and reiterate their commitment to uphold the highest standards in areas such as labor, safety, environmental or consumer protection.
“And what we're saying is that we believe in open, fair and rules-based trade. What we are saying is that a trade agreement is not a zero sum game, but a win-win for the involved parties. This agreement will bring tangible benefits to both sides and at the same time safeguard each other's sensitivities."
Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, said, “The economic benefits of this agreement are clear. By removing billions of euros of duties, simplifying customs procedures and tackling behind-the-border barriers to trade, it will offer opportunities for companies on both sides to boost their exports and expand their business.
“The European agriculture sector in particular has something to celebrate, with access to the enormous Japanese market and protection for over 200 distinctive food and drinks."
Removal of duties
The agreement will remove the vast majority of the €1bn ($1.16bn) of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers.
It will also open up the Japanese market of 127m consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.
Key parts of the agreement
The agreement will scrap Japanese duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently are at 29.8%); and a duty-free quota will be established for fresh cheeses (such as Mozzarella and Feta).
The document notes that EU exports of dairy could rise by 215%, or €729m ($846m).
The agreement also protects more than 200 European agricultural products, so called Geographical Indications (GIs), and the protection of a selection of Japanese GIs in the EU.
The agreement, which is now awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and Japanese Diet, also opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport.