The European Union and Japan have been working this week to wrap up a bilateral trade agreement with the goal of having most of a deal ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Hamburg.  The deal, which has been over 10 years in the making, would be one of the largest trade agreements to date, covering one quarter of the world’s economy between the two partners.  Key aspects of the agreement will provide greater market access to each party’s auto and machinery sectors, remove structural barriers to trade, create new rules for investment disputes, and reaffirm the parties’ commitment to the Paris climate accord (from which the United States has announced it will withdraw).

One sticking point has been Japan’s high tariffs – up to 40 percent – on imported cheese.  The EU claims about half of the global cheese market, while Japanese dairy farms struggle to survive.  Japan had already agreed to limited tariff reductions on selected cheese products in the course of the TPP negotiations, and has signaled it has no interest in going beyond those concessions.  Still, negotiators for each side are working hard to overcome these hurdles and have a final agreement in place by the end of 2017.
Continue Reading Japan: The Belle of the Bilateral Ball?