Japan-EU trade talks continuing with Japan’s export of green tea and wine in focus

TOKYO, June 23 – European Union’s regulations on Japan’s export of agricultural, forestry and fishery products to the European bloc are now crucial issues in Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) discussions. The trade talks currently affirm the removal of EU tariffs on Japanese wine, green tea, and some other agricultural products. However, just abolishing the taxes will not be enough to support the expansion of the export from Japan, unless regulations restricting export of those products are mitigated or eliminated.

Japan sees the tariffs on Japanese food are one of the key issues in the area of the agricultural, forestry and fishery products. It has requested the bloc to remove the tariffs, with its focus on pork (currently charged 86.9 euros for 100 kilograms at a maximum), green tea (currently charged 3.2% at a maximum) and wine (currently charged 0.154 euros per liter).

However, merely removing the tariffs does not give a boost to Japan’s export to Europe unless the regulations on the European side are loosened. For example, EU’s strict standards on the amount of residual pesticides in green tea will continuously limit Japan’s green tea export to Europe. This happens because there are some pesticides which are used in Japan but not in the non-green-tea-growing countries. So the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) now supports Japanese tea producers in asking EC regulators for the test of agrichemicals used to grow green tea in Japan.  An application for one type of agrichemical will be submitted to them by the end of this fiscal year.

As for animal products, Japan can export only beef to the European bloc today, and free trade of pork and dairy from Japan to Europe are now under negotiations.

By the end of July this year, Japan is going to submit EU its monitoring plans to show how the country is going to test the amount of residual animal drugs and agrichemicals in pork. However, even after receiving EU’s approval for the plans, it has to go through many procedures including acquiring approvals for facilities that can export products to Europe.

In a case of the beef export from Japan to Europe, it took Japan for two years to get necessary approvals from Europe about the facilities to raise the cattle, but the Japanese government intends to complete the process before the Japan-EU trade pact takes effect.

Wine export from Japan to EU is now limited to around 20 million yen, due to “regulatory barriers like bedrocks” as described in the words of the Ministry of Finance of Japan. Today, EU says that Japan can sell only those brewed by the rules developed to meet the weather conditions in Europe.

So Japan is now asking EU to ease regulations restricting export of Japanese wine to Europe on the use of vines of Japanese breeds, such as crimson glory vine, and the sugar content added to make alcohol in wine high.

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