Prospect of Japan FTA divides EU industry
By Joanna Sopinska | Friday 20 July 2012
European industries are divided over the EU’s plans to launch free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Japan (see
Europolitics4468). While car manufactures are firmly opposed, the food and drink industry sees it as an opportunity to increase its exports to Japan, tapping into its growing demand for non-traditional food.
Commenting on the European Commission’s decision to green-light opening of FTA talks with Tokyo, Ford Motor Company warned, on 18 July, against further job cuts in the European automotive industry as a result of a future deal. “At a time when vehicle sales in Europe are their lowest point in nearly two decades, a one-sided trade agreement that brings a wave of imports into the market without a corresponding outflow of exports could further damage the European economy and imperil the close to 12 million jobs supported by the automotive sector in Europe,” Ford said in a statement.
European car makers fear the EU, which currently imposes a 10% tariff on Japanese car imports, could lift that tariff as part of a deal. Meanwhile, Tokyo, according to them, seems very reluctant to dismantle its regulatory barriers to imports from the EU.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the biggest EU food and drink associations called for the quick launch of FTA talks with Tokyo. FoodDrinkEurope, Copa-Cogeca and the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-food Trade (CELCAA) argued that a free trade accord is the best option to “bring the existing and extensive bilateral cooperation with Japan to its full potential”. They pointed to the one-year-old EU-South Korea FTA as an example of a deal that brought about concrete benefits, especially to EU beef and dairy producers. Exports of European pork to South Korea increased by almost 120% during the first nine months of FTA implementation, while dairy volumes almost doubled.