After a formal agreement last July, the European Union Commissioner for Commerce, Cecilia Malmstrom, and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, have signed. The agreement could become effective in the spring of 2019, before the end of the present EU legislature. "This agreement," commented the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, "will offer great opportunities for growth for our exporters of farm products in a market that is very broad, mature and sophisticated." The estimates foresee an increase in European exports of over 20 billion euros, of which 10 would be in the agricultural sector alone.
For European wine, the treaty means the lifting of duty, which at the present time amounts to 31% on sparkling wines, 15% on bottled wines and 19.3% on bulk wine, (more than 2-liter containers). This considerable obstacle has made exporting Italian wine to Japan difficult, especially when compared to other countries. Chile, for example, where duty-free agreements with Japan are already in force, has overtaken Italy in volume and found itself in second place in terms of value as a supplier of still wines.
Among the other advantages of the agreement is the recognition of 205 denominations of European origins, among which are 130 wines, 44 of which are Italian. (Prosecco and Marsala are included). The Japanese automobile industry will benefit from the treaty, so much so that the agreement has been nicknamed "Cars for Cheese".