Japan has developed a depth of knowledge and expertise in processing materials, and is at the forefront of many sensitive technologies, such as rechargeable batteries for hybrid vehicles, nanotechnologies for manufacturing semiconductors, and various electronic components.
These advanced technologies are largely based on the availability of key raw materials and Japan’s ability to secure a stable high quality supply. Japan, one of the main consumers of industrial materials in the world, would benefit greatly from better access to the reliable sources of high-quality products at market-based prices that European companies can offer. However, Japan has been reluctant to reduce tariffs on industrial materials on a unilateral basis before formal negotiations on tariff reductions are concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Following a number of bilateral trade agreements and continued difficulties in reaching a breakthrough in the WTO’s Doha round, Japan has started to reconsider its policies. The unilateral lifting of tariffs on high carbon ferro-chromium (tariff code 720241000), a key ingredient in the manufacturing of all stainless steels, is a welcome step of major importance. The committee works to achieve the lifting of tariffs on other key materials such as processed nickel.