So, this idea of a free trade access deal post-Brexit ain’t that tough then

Britain must rush to agree a trade deal similar to the one being hammered out between the EU and Japan or face having the UK’s £72bn-a-year car industry taken apart, a trade lawyer has warned.

The alarm has been sounded by ­Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, a former diplomat who has represented the EU at the World Trade Organisation and is ­co-author of the European Commission’s Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment on the EU-Japan trade deal.

He said Japan and the EU are close to sealing a deal – dubbed “cheese for cars” – which will give Japanese companies tariff-free access to European markets, an arrangement likely to benefit the country’s huge manufacturing base. In return, Europe’s farmers will get similar access to Japan.

The EU-Japan trade deal could be agreed in just six months and come into force before Britain bows out of the EU in 2019. Once in place it could suddenly make Japanese companies’ UK manufacturing plants less competitive than similar factories in Europe.

There is no freedom of movement between Japan and the EU. So, free trade can be done and done simply.

What’s the problem folks?

17 comments on “So, this idea of a free trade access deal post-Brexit ain’t that tough then

  1. How many people in Japan want to buy British cheese? East Asians are a famously non-dairy-product eating people.

    And if Japan wants the British government to not punish British people for the sin of buying Japanese cars, that doesn’t need a deal, the British government can do it unilaterally.

  2. They’re ‘avin’ a laugh. The Japanese, besides being lactose intolerant, will pay well over the odds for Japanese sourced foods. Europeans on the other hand have a considerable appetite for Japanese cars. I can see the inscrutable smirk from here, “yes, by all means, try to sell your disgusting foreign swill to Japanese housewives.”

  3. “East Asians are a famously non-dairy-product eating people.”

    This is slowly changing, NZ spent decades building markets for Dairy in Asia. Japan consumes about 2kg of cheese per person per year, 20 times what it was last century, however it’s still a highly protected market.

  4. 2kg per person per year? I’ve just come back from the shops buying *this* *week’s* full kilogram of cheese. Come back when they’re eating 50kg pppy.

  5. jgh,

    That the Japanese buy 2 kg of cheese a year is a remarkable achievement. Name a Japanese dish that uses cheese. They have zero use for cheese in their native diet, so every kg is basically a win for NZ.

    The real money is with ice cream. And yoghurt.

    Again literally zero base consumption, so every sale is a win for the dairy producers.

  6. £72bn per year?

    There are 1.72m cars produced in the UK each year, so cars leaving the factory, before tax are £41K each? Either there’s a lot more Aston Martin’s being sold than I imagine, or that number is fucking bullshit.

  7. The same old crap again about car plants in the UK. So we have a market where there are no imports of Mercedes, Audi, VW, BMW,Porsche, Skoda, Fiat, Seat, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, many types of Ford and a lot of specialist manufacturers, and somehow, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Jaguar, BMW Mini and Vauxhall won’t do rather better with domestic sales?

  8. Lactose intolerance. I’m not sure about that, It’s something to do with Han Chinese, and Japanese aren’t Han. Meiji are a successful dairy product company and their milk and cheese products can be found everywhere. My wife’s business is making and selling cakes. All her products contain cream and they sell well in a small sort of a way.

    Han Chinese and Japanese are similar in the sense that it is very hard to distinguish between Finns and Greeks.

  9. This trade deal has been under discussion for how long? A decade or two? And now it might only take another 6 months. Well done you bureaucrats for having spun it out so long. If Brexit wasn’t happening I’m sure you could have had meetings for ever.

  10. Well done you bureaucrats for having spun it out so long. If Brexit wasn’t happening I’m sure you could have had meetings for ever.

    Well someone’s got to agree the maximum permissible curvature for a Class 1 cucumber. Otherwise trade would clearly be impossible.

  11. ‘­co-author of the European Commission’s Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment’

    Because one person couldn’t write it.

  12. I thought most Asians were lactose intolerant. It’s only really the farmers who took up dairy farming – Caucasians & some Africans – that evolved to continue to make lactase enzymes after weaning. No doubt there are lactose-free dairy products available.

  13. The Japanese drink plenty of bottles of milk in the form of Yakult, albeit those bottles are very small.

  14. Also this notion of Japanese car imports, you would be hard pressed to find a Toyota, Honda or Nissan currently on sale in Europe that has actually been made in Japan.

    I don’t think for one moment they will repatriate that production after a few percent tariff reduction.

  15. re free trade between japan and eu. Way it has been described in some quarters is that if we don’t have a trade deal then we won’t be able to import anything from japan. I wonder how my hifi got through and it doesn’t seem to have affected shimano bike products or the natto i have just eaten.

  16. bloke in france

    “This trade deal has been under discussion for how long? A decade or two? And now it might only take another 6 months. Well done you bureaucrats for having spun it out so long. If Brexit wasn’t happening I’m sure you could have had meetings for ever.”

    Exactly. NZ has it right, we import cars from Japan without taxes and NZ’ers get cheap cars, Japan taxes NZ dairy products and the Japanese pay high prices, so NZ sends most dairy products to China instead.

    In the meantime, NZ quietly works away at getting those Japanese tariffs reduced, and any movement down is a success.

    No need for everything to depend on decades long, positional bargaining, for ‘huge’ trade deals.

  17. Tractor Gent

    “I thought most Asians were lactose intolerant.”

    The majority of people worldwide are lactose intolerant to some degree.

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