Wine, beef imports rise after free trade pacts

Wine, beef imports rise after free trade pacts

Japan's Finance Ministry says wine and cheese imports from Europe, and beef imports from Canada and New Zealand, increased considerably up to March after two free trade deals came into effect.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact took effect on December 30 and the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union went into force on February 1.

Finance Ministry trade statistics show that wine imports from the EU grew 32 percent in February and March, compared to the same period last year. Cheese imports also grew 14 percent.

Beef imports from TPP members Canada and New Zealand have virtually doubled in the three-month period from January to March. Tariffs on various food items were lowered after the free trade pact came into effect, leading wholesalers to increase imports.

Supermarket operator Seijo Ishii has cut the price of French and Italian wines by 300 yen, or about three dollars per bottle since February. It says this has boosted sales volume by 8 percent in two months.

Teppei Hoshino, a manager of the supermarket's liquor sales section, says more customers are purchasing EU-made wines for the first time.