Break­through on cheese tar­iffs raises hopes of Japan trade deal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Lizzy Bur­den

A BREAK­THROUGH on cheese tar­iffs has given new hope that a UK-Japan trade deal – at least in prin­ci­ple – will be reached this week.

Liz Truss, the Trade Sec­re­tary, spoke to Toshim­itsu Motegi, the Ja­panese for­eign min­is­ter, on Wed­nes­day, agree­ing most of the core el­e­ments of a deal. They are ex­pected to hold a joint video press con­fer­ence to­day.

A po­ten­tial deal holds par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance post-Brexit be­cause it would be the first Bri­tain has ne­go­ti­ated in­de­pen­dently of the EU in 47 years.

While agri­cul­ture is an 11th-hour stum­bling block in most trade ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween any na­tions, ex­pec­ta­tions that a deal would be reached dur­ing Mr Motegi’s two-day visit to London this month were dashed by re­ports that the two sides had failed to reach a set­tle­ment on tar­iffs on ex­ports of blue cheese to Japan.

The com­pro­mise is set to be that im­port tar­iffs on Bri­tish blue cheese will re­main the same as in the ex­ist­ing EUJa­pan agree­ment but sup­pli­ers will be re­funded later if the to­tal im­port amount at the end of the year is be­low an agreed level, the Nikkei Asian Re­view re­ported.

UK ne­go­tia­tors had tried to have the tar­iffs elim­i­nated com­pletely to show that Bri­tain was ca­pa­ble of reach­ing a bet­ter trade deal alone. An­other stum­bling block had been tar­iffs on Ja­panese au­to­mo­tive ex­ports, which are ex­pected to be re­duced in­cre­men­tally as per the EU-Japan agree­ment.

Some tar­iffs on com­po­nents for cars and rail­ways will be fully re­moved, ben­e­fit­ing Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers.

On dig­i­tal ser­vices, there will be less gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment than un­der the EU-Japan agree­ment, with nei­ther side al­lowed to re­quire com­pa­nies to dis­close in­for­ma­tion about al­go­rithms and cryp­tog­ra­phy.

Ms Truss has in­sisted that she will not be “bounced into a deal” with Japan that did not meet Bri­tain’s am­bi­tions, re­fus­ing to com­mit to a dead­line.

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