On 6 July a consensus was reached on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA).
The terms of the agreement offer significant benefits to the European pig meat industry, as Japanese tariffs on EU imports will be cut significantly. Pig meat is already the primary EU agricultural export to Japan, with total shipments (excluding offal) worth over €1,430 million in 2016. This accounted for 21% of the export market value.
At present, EU pork exports to Japan are subject to one of two import tariffs; a 4.3% ad valorem duty for high value cuts and a specific duty on low value cuts equivalent to €3.82/kg. Both of these tariffs will be reduced over the next 10 years. The duty on high value cuts will be phased out entirely, while the specific duty on low value cuts will be reduced to just €0.40/kg over this time period. Processed pig meat will be tariff free, although EU trade in this is much smaller amounting to 20,000 tonnes in 2016. Volume-based safeguarding clauses will apply during the transition period to minimise any significant impact on the Japanese pig meat industry.
For EU pig producers, these tariff reductions will boost the competitiveness of European pig meat on the Japanese marketplace. This could facilitate growth in export volumes, taking market share from the US (currently Japan’s largest supplier of imported pig meat) where the full tariff will still apply. Indeed, the US pork industry has expressed concern about JEEPA, urging the US government to also finalise a trade deal with Japan.
While JEEPA could provide a boost to EU pork exports to Japan, the 10 year phasing in period means it will be a while before these benefits are felt fully. Nonetheless, with expectations that Japanese import demand could grow as domestic producers retire without succession, additional opportunities for the EU could be significant.
For UK producers, Brexit will prevent the full benefits of this trade deal from being felt directly. Nonetheless, if the close trading relationship between the UK and EU is maintained, any boost to demand for EU pork, and support to prices, could also be felt here in the UK. For example, Denmark is the largest EU supplier to Japan and some of the cuts are similar to those shipped to the UK. The announcement has inevitably been welcomed in a press notice from Danish Crown.