EU-Japan, an agreement in principle


EU-Japan, an ‘agreement in principle’ was announced on 6.7.17. In the direction of free trade, of great interest to the export of Italian and European foods to Japan.

Negotiations have been ongoing since 2013, and some issues are still unresolved. (1) The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) project, moreover, is an incentive for Japan to work out a trade agreement with Europe soon.

The export of EU agri-food products to Japan is one of the most important chapters in the negotiations. Eastern demand is significant, but onerous duties are compounded by non-tariff barriers, which the parties have agreed to overcome.

The best-selling Made in Europe foods and beverages in the Rising Sun, between present and future:

pork. Currently subject to a complex import regime involving an ad valorem tax and a basic duty. While the former will disappear, the latter will be reduced from ¥482 (€3.82) to ¥50 (€0.50)/kg,

alcoholic beverages. Wine, the second best-selling European agri-food product in Japan, is now subject to a 15 percent duty that will be abolished. European beer, hitherto subject to a special tax, will be subject to the same taxes as local beers,

dairy products. Duties on aged cheeses, bordering on 30 percent, will be gradually reduced over 15 years. Instead, a tariff quota will be introduced for fresh dairy products.

The Tokyo government also reported the launch of a series of reforms aimed at reducing non-tariff barriers to EU exports, including in Japan’sfood law. (2)

According to estimates, the agreement could spur an increase in European exports to Japan of up to 20 billion euros. If negotiations are successful by the end of the year, the free trade agreement could be implemented in early 2019.

Dario Dongo



(1) Paradoxically, it is Europe, once the cradle of democracy, that insists on the imposition of a neo-liberal clause. The arbitration system-so-calledInvestor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)-which exposes sovereign states to the risk of private challenges to their laws. Where national standards are deemed incompatible with free trade criteria

(2) One of the most problematic issues relates to the authorization of food additives