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August 11, 2020

Blue cheese ‘sticking point in UK-Japan trade talks’

Talks aimed at achieving a trade deal between the UK and Japan are reported to be stalling because of a disagreement centred on a food item.

By Leonie Barrie

Talks aimed at achieving a trade deal between the UK and Japan are reported to be stalling because of a disagreement centred on cheese.

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The UK is free to establish its own trade agreements once it formally leaves the EU at the end of this year but the country is already working toward an agreement in principle on a trade deal with Japan that both sides hope could be signed off by the end of this month.

However, multiple news reports suggest one outstanding issue is cheese. The UK is seeking more preferential terms for its traditional blue cheeses, such as Stilton, whereas Japan is looking to stick to EU-agreed levels.

According to the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, during recent talks in London, UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, reached a “substantial” preliminary agreement on trade, promising to conclude a preliminary deal by the end of this month with a view to having it take effect from 1 January 2021.

But after reaching agreement on auto tariffs and making progress in sectors such as financial services, they reportedly reached an impasse over blue cheese, which Truss had insisted on making part of the negotiations.

The Nikkei Asian Review business newspaper said the UK is seeking more preferential terms for its blue cheeses amid pressure on the country’s government from British farmers concerned about the imminent loss of EU subsidies.

Reporting on the talks, the UK’s The Financial Times newspaper said under the existing trade deal between Japan and the EU Tokyo’s tariffs of 29% on hard cheeses such as cheddar would be phased out to zero by 2033, while for fresh cheeses such as mozzarella and blue-veined varieties there would be duty-free access by 2033 on an agreed quota.

London wants to go further but Japan argues that it cannot give the UK a better deal than the one agreed with the EU, whose 27 nations have a population almost seven times bigger than that of the UK.

Last year, the UK exported GBP18m (US$23.6m) of blue cheese globally, the FT said, citing data from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, but just GBP102,000 of that went to Japan.

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Free Whitepaper
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What is the impact of historically high inflation on the UK consumer landscape?

The average UK consumer is experiencing a severe cost-of living crisis as inflation surges to a forty-year high and the price of goods continues to rise. This shock is the result of the sharply increasing costs of commodities, energy, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and is threatening FMCG manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators’ ability to survive and grow. Inflation will have a profound effect on many consumer-facing industries in 2022 and beyond. Consult GlobalData’s new whitepaper, Inflation in the UK: The Impact of Historically High Inflation on the UK Consumer Landscape, to better understand shifts in consumer behavior and their impact on spending patterns, as well as the implications for UK businesses. This whitepaper covers:  
  • Why has global inflation returned with a vengeance?
  • What is the current inflation situation in the UK?
  • What impact is inflation having on UK retail sales?
  • What tactics are businesses relying on to tackle the effects of high inflation?
  • How are consumers changing their behaviors to cope with the higher cost of living?
  • Which industry sectors are most vulnerable to reduced consumer demand?
  • How is the government responding to high inflation?
  • How long will high inflation last in the UK?
  • How can your company survive and thrive in a high inflation environment?
Enter your details here to receive your free whitepaper and ready your business for these increasingly uncertain times.
by GD50 Custom
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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