The European Union stands firm in its refusal to include agriculture in a possible new trade agreement with the United States, said European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Since the trade talks began in July 2018, the EU has more than doubled imports of soybeans from the U.S., whose sales have suffered overall due to retaliatory tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war.

On December 17, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to set the parliamentary vote on Brexit for the week of January 14. May postponed a vote on the plan last week in the face of opposition from her own conservative Tory party.

In her announcement at the House of Commons, May said, "We intend to return to the 'Meaningful Vote' debate in the week commencing seventh of January, and hold the vote the following week." In her statement, May rejected the idea of a second referendum vote to back out of Brexit. She argued that her agreement to keep close economic ties with the EU after Brexit is the only option to avoid “irreparable” division among UK citizens, saying, "Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum."

On December 12, the European Parliament approved the free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and Japan by a large majority. The EU-Japan trade agreement will create an open trading market for 635 million people, or a third of the world’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

The EU-Japan agreement is the first of its kind to directly incorporate the Paris climate agreement in a binding manner. It is also the first bilateral agreement between the EU and Japan, and is currently the largest bilateral FTA in the world.