JEFTA, an opportunity to develop your activity in Japan?

It is now more than a year since the JEFTA (Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement) was implemented. This free trade treaty between the European Union and Japan entered into force on 1st February 2019. A review of the impact on French companies one year after the implementation of JEFTA.


What is JEFTA?

JEFTA is the acronym for the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement, the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan.

It is a bilateral agreement between two major world economic powers (the European Commission and Japan) which entered into force after more than 4 years of negotiations on 1st February 2019. What is its purpose? Facilitating trade between Europe and Japan by reducing or abolishing customs duties, opening markets and guaranteeing the protection of geographical indications, etc.

At the same time, these agreements could promote cooperation between the two parties on various subjects such as climate change, sustainable development, the harmonisation of social and environmental standards and foreign policy among others, providing a strong front against the United States and China.


The benefits of JEFTA

Among the main advantages of JEFTA are the elimination of customs duties on many products, and the partial, gradual or total elimination of custom duties depending on the products exported. Dairy products and wines as well as also industrial products. In addition, more than 200 European geographical indications are protected as well as Japanese product indications in the EU. The finance, e-commerce and transport markets and those of other services are or will be open to EU member states in Japan and more than 50 major cities will accept to receive responses to calls for tenders from EU companies, which will be treated in the same way as Japanese responses.

To succeed in exporting to Japan, discover the advantages of a multilingual strategy in our article.

With regard to labour legislation, both sides have harmonised their methods for processing personal data, protecting industrial and commercial secrecy, as well as patents and have together defined common minimum measures and rules to protect test data in the pharmaceutical field.

Japan is also benefiting from the abolition of certain customs duties on exports of products such as rice, beef, sake, etc., as well as on electronics and automobiles. Currently taxed at 10%, Japanese cars will gradually be able to enter the European market more easily.


Which sectors benefit most from JEFTA?

In France, certain sectors particularly benefit from this agreement between the European Commission and Japan. This is the case for cheese, wine, meat and other agricultural products.

While some products were already duty-free for Japan (pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, computers, etc.), others now benefit from JEFTA. At the top of the list are agricultural and agri-food products as well as beverages. Since the implementation of the agreement and the abolition or reduction of customs duties on certain products, French exports of agri-food products increased by 10% between 2018 and 2019.

In Europe, wines, cereals, meat and dairy products have benefited most from the agreement.

Another good point that should not be overlooked is the opening up of public procurement markets, which are becoming more accessible to Europeans in Japan.


Please note: Take advantage of the benefits of JEFTA by exporting to Japan. To put yourself on the best possible footing, benefit from the support of a translation agency for all your legal and financial documents, and your exchanges (interpreting) to ensure the success of this targeted internationalisation.


The implementation of JEFTA in 2019 has enabled European Union member states- notably France – to trade with Japan more freely. Facilitated exports that benefit the economies of both countries. The free trade area created between Japan and the European Union generates almost a quarter of the world’s GDP, providing a golden opportunity for SMEs wishing to open up to Japan. However, be careful to take into account language and cultural differences and receive support for the translation of your administrative, legal and financial documents!

For further information, read our article on the success of the French Luxury industry on the exportmarket