The Japanese government is reportedly looking at removing tariffs on imported wine which might also lead other countries to remove their own tariffs on sake, which is the country’s chief alcoholic export. The current administration believes that this plan will benefit domestic consumers and also significantly increase Japan’s sake exports.
Australia and New Zealand, two of the countries in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, have requested that wine tariffs be eliminated in order to help their entry into the domestic wine market. At present, there is a 15% tariff on the price of imported wines which is around ¥125 per liter while other alcoholic beverages like beer and whiskey are tariff free. However, Japan has to also look into protecting local wine producers first, as they will be drastically affected if the wine tariffs are removed. At the same time, if they agree to the request of the wine-producing countries, Japan can also request them to remove their own restrictions on sake imports, which will lead to an increase in sake exports, which is badly needed by the industry. In 2007, Japan and Chile entered into an economic partnership where Japan gradually removed the tariffs on their wine and it led to sake exports increasing to the South American country.
The negotiators in the 12-country, US-led TPP talks are looking at a 95% or more liberalization rate, which is the percentage of goods where tariffs can be eliminated. Japan has been working on the list of goods that they can let go of the levies, but also protecting around 568 items in certain key categories, which includes rice and wheat. At first, wine was included in the list where tariffs will not be removed but since domestic consumption of sake has been steadily falling, they believe the new proposal they’re working on will be highly feasible.
[ via Yomiuri ]