European Cocoa Association praises historic EU trade deal with Japan

The European Cocoa Association has welcomed an economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan as offering a valuable mutual trade boost.

Food sector businesses stand to potentially benefit significantly from the deal, including those operating within the confectionery and bakery markets.

The latest agreement is reportedly set to remove the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers.

It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.

The Japanese confectionery market in particular has been tracked closely by Europe, with a number of key product launches for new ranges emerging their first as a valuable testing ground, as with Barry Callebaut’s decision for an early launch of ruby chocolate products there.

The economic partnership agreement will also in addition strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in a range of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development, and include for the first time a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed the trade deal.

He said: “The document we signed today is much more than a trade agreement. It is of course a tool that will create opportunities for our companies, our workers and our citizens and that will boost the European and Japanese economies. But it is also a statement.

“For its content, its scope and also its timing. It is a statement by two like-minded partners that together represent nearly a third of the world’s GDP and reiterate their commitment to uphold the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection. And what we’re saying is that we believe in open, fair and rules-based trade. What we are saying is that a trade agreement is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win for the involved parties. This agreement will bring tangible benefits to both sides and at the same time safeguard each other’s sensitivities.”

Cecilia Malmström, commissioner for trade, added that the deal sent a strong signal that two of the world’s biggest economies regarded open trade as key to their respective futures, rejecting restrictive tariffs.

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