Sunday 22 October 2017

Ireland to benefit from EU-Japan trade deal – Kelly

Sean Kelly MEP
Sean Kelly MEP
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ireland can reap the economic benefits from the EU-Japan trade deal, especially in terms of agri-exports, according to Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly.

Currently Japan is Ireland's 11th most important trading partner and Mr Kelly said that Japan is keen on importing more EU agricultural products, particularly dairy goods.

In 2013, Ireland exported over €1.6bn worth of goods to Japan, mostly from the agri-food, pharma/medical, ICT and financial services areas. Ireland imported just over €1bn worth of goods from Japan.

"An EU FTA with Japan opens up the possibility of growing that trade surplus substantially," Mr Kelly said.

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The outline deal between the EU and Japan plans for the scrapping of duties on many European cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (current duties are 29.8pc).

In addition it will allow the EU to increase its beef exports to Japan substantially, while on pork there will be duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat, according to the MEP.

43,500 tonnes of Irish beef are currently sent to Japan at a tariff of 38.5pc, which could be reduced to 9pc over 15 years.

"The EU-Japan FTA is good news for Ireland, especially with regard to concerns for the trading impact of Brexit – new markets are vital.

Being an EU Member State gives Ireland access to the Single Market and to new trading opportunities. More trade means more jobs," added Mr Kelly.

Last month Japan's Ministry of Finance (MOF) has said the country will raise tariffs on frozen beef imports from the US and other countries from August to protect domestic producers.

Tariffs on frozen beef will jump to 50pc from the current 38.5pc between August 1 and the end of March next year, as a "safeguard" mechanism to protect domestic farmers is being triggered, the ministry said in a statement.

The increase will be the first time the tariff mechanism has been tripped for beef imports since it was last triggered for chilled beef in August 2003, the farm ministry said.

Japan is the world's third-largest economy, with a population of about 127 million. EU firms already export over €58bn in goods and €28bn in services to Japan annually.

A final text on the proposed EU-Japan FTA deal will be presented by the end of the year, before coming before the European Parliament for review, as well as EU Member States.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)

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