Japan could dump wine tariff to sweeten EU trade deal

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Nikkei | 30 June 2017

Japan could dump wine tariff to sweeten EU trade deal

Japan will offer an immediate removal of its tariff on wine from the European Union in the proposed trade pact between the two sides, hoping to win concessions from Brussels as negotiations near a conclusion.

Tokyo levies an import tariff of 15% or 125 yen ($1.12) per liter, whichever is less, on wine produced in EU member nations. Japan had proposed removing that tariff gradually after the economic partnership agreement under negotiation took effect, so as not to harm domestic liquor producers. A similar duty on wine from Chile, an emerging rival to European vintners in terms of exports to Japan, will be phased out by 2019 under a trade pact with that South American nation.

By offering to abolish the EU wine tariff as soon as the trade deal takes effect, Tokyo hopes Brussels will compromise on other sticking points. Japan looks to keep tariffs on European lumber and wants the EU to eliminate duties on the Asian country’s passenger cars.

The EU, meanwhile, wants Japan to slice its tariff on European cheese and allow foreign companies to participate in public works projects run by regional governments. The cheese tariff is a crucial issue for Brussels, and could do much to determine how the rest of the agreement turns out.

Cecilia Malmstroem, the EU’s trade commissioner, visits Japan for talks Friday and Saturday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday. Though chief negotiators from the two sides "have made a certain amount of progress, thorny issues remain," he said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he sent Malmstroem and another commissioner to wrap up negotiations "before the summit between the European Union and Japan on July 6."

source: Nikkei