Food & Agriculture

With the implementation and entry into force of the EU-Japan EPA, European food has very much increased its presence in Japan. The EBC believes that this agreement together with the EU-Switzerland FTA have improved the marker access to the market tremendously. Already on the first day of the agreement, 1 February 2019, supermarkets could be seen marketing EU wine using the EPA as a marketing tool. Newly released trade statistics show a dramatic increase in imports of European food into Japan.

This is however not to say that it has been without its problems. Many importers experienced difficulties with the application of the rules of origin, and in particular regarding how to certify origin. Much addition information was requested by the Japanese authorities, despite the use of the statement on origin issued by the exporter. It is therefore with great relief that EBC can report that the situation today is very different. Some issues still remain regarding the need to include origin criteria and the issues with invoices covering products that have obtained origin through different means. Both the Japanese authorities and the European Commission have worked hard to improve the situation. The EBC believess that with these changes the rate of usage will further increase and that agricultural trade between the two regions will continue to expand, and also that this can be an example of excellence when looking at other areas to improve.

For the potential to be fully reached though, Japan needs to improve the situation regarding the administration of Tariff Rates Quotas (TRQs). As we have now entered the fifth annual allocation period there are still outstanding issues.. There is unfortunately a lack of predictability since there is no way of knowing ho big of a volume will be allocated to an individual company. Because of this it is difficult to know the price at which the goods can be offered This is also true for the ‘second’ offering if there is volumes are returned. This is usually presented and allocated rather late which makes planning hard.

Apart from tariffs, various non-tariff food-related issues also impact the availability of European products in Japan. For example, Japan remains “out of sync” with other countries, in that it has still not approved a majority of food additives and enzymes declared safe by Codex  Alimentarius. Sanitary and phytosanitary issues are of course included in the EPA. It should, however, be stated that the agreement currently only includes very general wording on what benefits suppliers and importers can foresee. It is therefore important that the two authorities continue to work in this field to improve the current situation, where duplicate testing has to be done for imported goods due to lack of harmonisation or mutual recognition of approvals of test methods. Some improvements have been made, but re-testing for the Japanese market is still very common.

The EBC is very keen to work closely with all relevant parties in the Government of Japan and the European Commission to help bring about effective and positive change to support the goal of providing consumers in Japan with a much wider variety of safe, high-quality food. We very much hope that the EU-Japan EPA will ensure that tariffs are abolished or decreased according to EPA commitments, standards harmonised and the market authorisations of both regions mutually recognised. The EBC Food & Agriculture Committee firmly believes this can be achieved without compromising food safety. Furthermore, it will lead to more choice in supermarkets, stimulating healthy competition in the food and agricultural sectors of both zones, and to European food becoming more accessible, something we know Japanese consumers would appreciate.

Key issues and recommendations

Upcoming committee meeting schedule

Please contact the EBC ( [email protected] ) to confirm the meeting location prior to attending

March 19 (Tuesday)17:00~Hybrid
July 16 (Tuesday)17:00~Hybrid
October 22 (Tuesday)17:00~Hybrid