BRUSSELS – The European Union plans to back down on tariff cuts for Japanese automobiles and home appliances unless the country drastically reduces its tariff rates for key products from the EU, such as wine, cheese and meat, a source in the EU said Monday.
The step is apparently part of the EU’s strategy to win concessions from Japan in their talks on concluding an economic partnership agreement for free trade between them.
Although the EU is prepared to make a best offer to Japan in terms of tariff removals, it would make a less ambitious proposal if Japan does not reciprocate, the source said.
Japan has not met levels targeted by the EU in negotiations on major sectors, including food, machinery, chemical products, textiles and clothing, and metals, the source said.
Before the start of EPA negotiations, the EU decided in 2012 to abolish its 10 percent tariffs on Japanese vehicles in seven years after the effectuation of the envisaged EPA on condition that Japan rectifies so-called nontariff trader barriers.
On farm trade, the EU views Japan as being more protectionist than it had expected.
Against this background, the EU side apparently believes it can negotiate a better deal with Japan if it demands lower tariff rates on agricultural products from the country as a precondition for its own tariff removals.
The EU decided to start the EPA negotiations with Japan with the support from its food and beverage industries, although opposition from the automobile industry was strong. The EU therefore hopes to win concessions from Japan on agricultural products.