Comments on: The Japan-Swiss EPA means nothing to cheese lovers How to make, save and spend money in Japan. Wed, 18 Feb 2015 03:29:48 +0000 hourly 1 By: MG Tue, 08 Jun 2010 05:26:39 +0000 Second addition regarding the preferential tariff treatment:
1. There remains a quota for cheese imported under JSFTEPA.
The quota starts with 600 metric tons to be increased over the next 10 years to 1’000 metric tons. Cheese imported beyond this quota pays the usual MFN-tariff of 29.8 per cent.

2. The cheese imported within this quoata benefits of a tariff reduction. The tariff reduction is made in six equal annual instalments from 29.8 per cent to 14.9 per cent. So the tariff will be halved over the next 6 years but not eliminated.

Summary: The immediate effect of tariff reduction is very low for the first year, increasing over the next 6 years (always within the quota).

By: MG Tue, 08 Jun 2010 05:15:42 +0000 One amendment: there are not 12 but 13 cheeses covered.

By: MG Tue, 08 Jun 2010 05:14:30 +0000 Thank you for the interesting article. Let me provide some additional information:
1. JSFTEPA (Japan-Switzerland Free Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement) does not cover all cheese, but only 12 selected types of Swiss cheese. To know which types, please consult the following weblink:,lnp6I0NTU042l2Z6ln1ad1IZn4Z2qZpnO2Yuq2Z6gpJCEfHt_gGym162epYbg2c_JjKbNoKSn6A–
Or go to:
And then:
Annex I, Appendix 1, Schedule of Japan
And there at the end: “Attachment 1: Natural cheeses”

2. That means that certain imported Swiss cheese cannot benefit of the tariff exemption (please consult also HS 0406.90 of the Japanese tariff schedule).

3. Another element is the usually small quantity sold in single items (100g not 500g or even 1kg as you can find in Switzerland). This increases the price automatically due to additional handling required.

4. As you indicated the shelf-price depends not only on the total import price including tariff but also the exchange rate and the distribution channel. The tariff in percentage of the final shelf price may be no more than 10 %. And of course distributors may not expect a strong price sensitivity/elasticity of the consumer for a 10% price decrease as it is a luxury food item in Japan.

Summary: Yes the EPA does bring direct tangible economic benefits. However, these benefits are not necessarily distributed to the consumer as it depends on the competition intensity and price sensitivity of the product.

By: CD Fri, 28 May 2010 21:07:32 +0000 Well, firstly tariff reductions are usually implemented over a given time period (1-10 years). Secondly, it could be that the costs of applying for the exemptions from the normal tariffs are higher than the actual benefit. Thirdly, as you mentioned, it could be that the EPA is of no use in this case because there is no incentive in Japan to pass on the lower price to the customers (why should they? there are no substitutes).

Again, most experts argue that EPA have more to do with politics than with economics…

By: Simon Bernard Tue, 25 May 2010 12:14:29 +0000 Amen!
So what can we do to “moo-ve” these cows to give us real cheese at affordable prices? Any constructive ideas?