Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – European Union and Japanese plans to form the world’s largest free trade area cleared their final hurdle on Wednesday when EU lawmakers backed a partnership set to enter force next year.

The European Parliament voted 474 in favor to 156 against the agreement that binds two economies accounting for about a third of global gross domestic product and also signals their rejection of protectionism.

Both face trade tensions with Washington and remain subject to U.S. tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on imports of steel and aluminum.

Reporting by Phil Blekinsop; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel


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