EU-Japan trade deal: a world of opportunities

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Daruma dolls are a talisman of perseverance and good luck in Japanese culture. Traditionally, the owner fills in one eye of the doll and makes a wish, then fills in the second one once the goal has been accomplished. They were used by Japan and EU to symbolise the political agreement.

The European Union and Japan have finalised an agreement on the future EU-Japan Economic Partnership. This will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU. Exporters from Italy, Spain, Austria and Poland tell how the deal will improve their business.

Italian wine to make a big splash on Japanese market

“For many years, Japan has been an important market worldwide for Brunello di Montalcino and for Col d’Orcia wines, which have grown along with the Italian food industry over the years.”

Francesco Marone Cinzano, President, Col D’Orcia, Italy.

Col d’Orcia is an Italian winery in Tuscany, which has been exporting to Japan since the 1990s. The main challenges it faces are tariffs and cultural differences regarding consumption of fine wines. The company expects the EU’s trade deal with Japan to help it strengthen its brand presence on the Japanese market and increase sales in the same way the EU-South Korea deal did for it in South Korea.

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Tenuta Col D’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

Spanish shoe company wants a larger footprint in Japan

“In terms of international trade, the main challenge is costs. We export to about 90 countries, and Japan is one of the markets with the highest tariffs.”

Antonio Fagundo, Managing Director, Masaltos, Spain

Seville-based Spanish shoe company Masaltos gets nearly two thirds of its revenue from overseas sales, with Japan accounting for 4%. “Not all goods can succeed on that market if such high export costs have to be passed on to the consumer in the final price”, says Managing Director Antonio Fagundo. The EU-Japan trade agreement will help the company become more competitive and increase sales in one of its most competitive markets.

Innovative tech solutions for Japan, made in Austria

“Another important factor in the agreement will be harmonisation and tackling trade barriers in areas such as standards, safety regulations and public procurement”

Sabine Herlitschka, CEO, Infineon Technologies Austria AG

Headquartered in Villach in the state of Carinthia, microelectronics firm Infineon Austria is a leading business in the country. Its know-how is used in cars, smartphones, industrial electronics, debit cards and ID cards. Between 2013 and 2016, Infineon saw its turnover increase from €377m to €982m. Last year, its business in Japan accounted for 6% of overall revenue. “The agreement would also make products cheaper for consumers - says CEO Sabine Herlitschka — And it helps us compete globally, including microelectronics”.

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Infineon laboratory in Carinthia, Austria

Polish pottery maker has its eyes set on the Japanese market

“We already export there but the market is difficult because duties are high and many tests need to be carried out. In Japan, even colour combinations have to be certified”

Paweł Zwierz, CEO, Manufaktura, Poland

Pottery maker Manufaktura in the Lower Silesian town of Bolesławiec has grown at lightning speed, expanding its workforce from 10 to 213 in response to surging demand from South Korea. More than a fifth of Manufaktura’s staff works solely on pottery destined for South Korea. The EU-Japan trade agreement is likely to further increase their sales.

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Pottery by Manufaktura in Lower Silesian, Poland

EU-Japan trade agreement: facts and figures

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EU-Japan trade: the state of play

By removing the vast majority of duties currently paid by EU companies (€ 1 billion every year), and setting the highest common standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, the EU-Japan will open a world of opportunities for EU companies and job creation. It will boost EU exports to Japan in key sectors such as chemicals (+22%) and electrical machinery (+16%). Processed food — which includes cheese, tinned vegetables, bread, savoury snacks, meat products, wine, milk and soft drinks — is expected to benefit a boost of up to 180%. Here are some examples of the effects of the deal on the EU agricultural exports.

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Read also: EU-Japan trade agreement: texts of the agreement in principle

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