Fabian Demicoli

Council agrees to launch free trade negotiations with Japan

Good news for the commerce sector: the
Council has finally given green light to the Commission to launch free trade
negotiations with Japan. The first round of trade talks can be expected soon.
GRTU is a great supporter of an FTA with Japan.

The trade talks between Brussels and
Tokyo should now lead to tangible results for the commerce sector: the
agreement should deliver joint standards and certification schemes for consumer
products as well as the mutual recognition of standards, the removal of
existing tariff barriers, the abolition of beyond-the-border measures, the
liberalisation of distribution services and the relaxation of the rigid zoning
regime in Japan.

Please do not hesitate to refer to the attached EuroCommerce
briefing paper on Japan to inspire any complementary advocacy vis-à-vis your
national MEPs and government throughout the negotiating process.

The EU-Japan relationship is far from
achieving its full potential. Neither side can afford to ignore the opportunity
it offers for greater prosperity and economic stability. The EU and Japan
should work together to achieve a far closer trade and economic relationship.

At a time when global competitiveness
demands the highest levels of efficiency in production, relations between Japan
and the EU should be barrier-free to further mutual growth.

A crucial area for European retailers
in Japan is the importation, certification and labelling of consumer products
for sale. These procedures remain costly and complex, due to the Japanese
authorities' demand for additional product testing, though standards for most
retail products are similar.

The EU and Japan should work on joint
standards and certification schemes for consumer products, and mutual
acceptance of standards and
certification. Hence, products certified for one market by definition, should
also be accepted in the other market, unless particular reasons for not doing
so can be presented. Moreover, food hygiene standards should be established
aligned with internationally accepted standards.

Product labelling is intrinsically
difficult for European retailers in Japan. The Household Product Quality Law
and accompanying voluntary labelling guidelines ("hyojikitei") prescribe in extreme detail e.g. how household
products should be labelled when sold in Japan.

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