• By The Financial District


Japan and Britain are battling over their new bilateral trade agreement, with London seeking zero tariffs on malt grains and other farm products and Tokyo opposing such preferential treatment, the Yomiuri Shimbun and Reuters reported.

The negotiations are in their final stage. An agreement needs to be reached as early as this summer, because the post-Brexit transition period is to end in December. One of the focal points is Britain’s demand regarding agricultural products.

An economic partnership agreement that was signed between Japan and the European Union (EU) is currently applied to bilateral trade between Japan and Britain. Japan has set tariff-free and low-tax import quotas for some agricultural products from the EU, such as malt and butter, and Britain wants Japan to set new quotas for the country after Brexit. “Britain wants to extract favorable conditions from Japan and realize a post-Brexit achievement,” a Japanese government official said. Japan, however, is reluctant to accept the demand, as it set preferential quotas for the EU, including Britain.

The United States is another reason why Japan cannot accept Britain’s demands in this regard. Washington broke away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and signed a bilateral agreement with Japan, a case similar to Britain, which left the EU. In its negotiations with the US, Japan refused to set a preferential quota on agricultural products for that country, on the grounds that the TPP had included a preferential quota for the US. If it accepts the British demand, Japan “could face additional US demands,” a ruling party lawmaker lobbying for farm organizations was quoted as saying.