Farmers and car buyers win from EU-Japan deal
Irish farmers and food processors stand to be among the main winners from an agreement signed between the EU and Japan to scrap tariffs on much of their bilateral trade which is expected to come into effect next year.
The Economic Partnership Agreement between Europe and Japan remains subject to ratification by the European Parliament and the Japanese Diet following which it could enter into force as early as 2019.
For Irish consumers it could, eventually, bring down the price of Japanese cars but tariffs of 10pc will be phased-out only gradually over eight years, something demanded by European car makers.
Here, the agrifoods sector is the main beneficiary. The Department of Agriculture said the deal will ensure duty-free trade with processed pork meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh pork meat exports. Tariffs on beef will be cut from 38.5pc to 9pc over 15 years for a significant volume of beef products.
Current duties of 29.8pc on hard cheeses such as gouda and cheddar (which Ireland is seeking new markets for as a result of Brexit) will be eliminated, and a duty-free quota will be established for fresh cheeses such as mozzarella.
The digital services sector also looks set to benefit from the European Commission's decision of adequacy in relation to Japan's data protection regime, which paves the way for data transfers between the EU and Japan, including within businesses.
Japan is Ireland's third-most important market in Asia, with €94m worth of agri-food produce exported there in 2017. It has almost doubled since 2016 thanks to a rise in pork sales.
The EU-Japan agreement will also scrap or reduce barriers for skimmed milk powder, butter and whey.
The deal, which had been under negotiation since 2013, was to have been signed in Europe earlier this month, but Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was forced to cancel his trip after severe flooding and landslides in Japan claimed the lives of more than 200 people.
Europe and Japan are rallying to bolster multilateral agreements as US President Donald Trump shuns such pacts and imposes tariffs on trading partners. Japan took a leadership role in preserving an 11-member Trans-Pacific deal after Mr Trump pulled the US out immediately after taking office.
European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said trade between Ireland and Japan is worth more than €3bn a year, and will now expand further.
The Irish Government is in the process of increasing its presence on the ground in Japan through capital investment in the development of the New Ireland House, an initiative that will bring Ireland's State agencies, including the embassy, together under one roof.
"We underline the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core and continue to fight protectionism," Japan and the EU said in a joint statement issued in Tokyo yesterday.
"In giving full effect to this agreement, Japan and the EU are sending a powerful message to promote free, fair and rules-based trade, and against protectionism."
The Japan-EU trade agreement is expected to boost Japan's economy by about 1pc, or five trillion yen (€38bn), and add roughly 290,000 jobs in the nation, according to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
European exporters to Japan will see the vast majority of €1bn of duties they pay annually removed.