That’s according to Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general of the European Meat and Livestock Trading Union. Jean-Luc was speaking about the prospects of meat trade to one of Asia’s largest markets, after GlobalMeatNews revealed that seven EU states were braced for a decision for Japan to approve beef exports.
Mériaux said Japan should not be considered a massive market for the European beef industry because of the monopolisation currently enjoyed by beef bulwarks Australia and the US. There are also logistical issues involved in the transport of meat that makes EU beef trade with Japan less lucrative than other markets.
But Mériaux believes it could be a “very interesting niche market for high quality beef”, as well as offal and veal. “The EU’s beef and veal exports to Japan will contribute to a better valorisation of the cattle in the EU, thanks to the quality and the price, rather the quantities.”
FTA deal this year
The key to ensuring this was capitalised on would be to secure a free trade negotiation (FTA) with Japan, he said.
“The EU meat industry is convinced that the conclusion for a FTA negotiation with Japan shall be the priority of the EU Commission in 2016,” said Mériaux. If this does not happen, the near implementation of the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement could present serious problems for the EU meat industry. Not only would it fail to improve its market share in Japan’s beef sector, but it would be likely to lose its place in the pork sector too.
To ensure that European beef had a level playing field in Japan, Mériaux said it was “vital” to secure a free trade agreement by the end of 2016.
In April, the 16th round of negotiations over the EU-Japan free trade agreement took place in Tokyo and issues including trade barriers and public procurement were discussed.
Japan is the second-biggest Asian market for the EU, after China. EU exports to Japan are largely dominated by machinery and pharmaceuticals, with agricultural trade making up a slender portion of the goods Japan imports from Europe.