JAPAN’S SUNTORY AND ASAHI ANNOUNCED PRICE CUTS ON EU WINES FROM 1 FEBRUARY
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Japan’s leading wine importers Suntory and Asahi Groups have announced that they will cut prices on imported European wines when the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement comes into effect on 1 February.
Suntory Wine International announced that they will reduce prices on 69 imported European wines on 1 February. Retail prices for these products will be reduced by up to 11 %, between ¥20 to ¥140 depending on the product.
Another leading wine distributor Asahi Breweries Ltd also announced it will cut retail prices for 40 wines imported from the EU from 1 March. Reductions will be between 4 to 17%, for example a bottle of Italian sparkling wine will sell for ¥1,771, down from ¥1,976.
Both the Japanese and EU parliaments had ratified the terms of the trade deal before the new year break, paving the way for Japan to become the second Asian country after South Korea to have forged free trade agreements with the EU.
Japan’s tariff on EU wines is currently set at 15% of shipment price or ¥125 per litre, whichever is lower. From 1 February, more than 90% of the EU's exports to Japan will be duty free including wine.
Products including Italy's Prosecco, Scotch whisky, Swedish and Polish vodka, Spain's Rioja and Czech beer will also be legally protected in Japan under an agreement that recognises Geographical Indications.
According to the EU, its wine exports to Japan are worth about €1bn, making wine the second biggest agricultural export to Japan by value.
European wine producers welcome the tariff free status to be enjoyed by their exports to Japan, saying that it would boost competitiveness.
Antoine Leccia, Chairman of French Wine and Spirits exporters’ Federation, said in a statement: “This is an important agreement, as our companies will now be able to operate in the Japanese market on an equal footing with some of our main competitors, such as Chile, for example.”
Chile has made remarkable breakthrough in the Japanese market in recent years, leading to a decline in French wine sales in Japan, particularly in 2016.
Sales in volume in 2017 was stable at 6.1 million cases, generating €482 million, up 8.2% mostly driven by sales of Champagne.
(the writer can be contacted at: SLawMathews@thewinechronicle.com)
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