European Parliament approves free trade agreement with Japan: EU footwear will be duty-free in 10 years

European Parliament has approved, to a definite extent, the free trade agreement, signed by European Union and Japan, to remove customs duties on 96% of products exported from Europe. Among commodities that will benefit from the deal, signed in 2016 after long negotiations, we mention leather shoes, whose duties will be reduced from 30% down to 21%, to be subsequently and progressively removed in the next 10 years. The same deregulation process will also apply, step by step, to finished leather. European footwear industry is very happy about it. “Japan is one of the most looking up markets for our footwear manufacturers: in fact, current customs duties have caused, despite its prospective expansion, a decrease in Italian and European Union exports over the last years”, pointed out Cleto Sagripanti, president of CEC. “On the one hand, negotiations took longer than expected (they began in 2013); in addition, they did not run that smoothly for Europe’s footwear industry – added Sagripanti – because of the traditional regard and respect towards footwear manufacturers in Japan. Nevertheless, we eventually succeeded in getting to a rewarding agreement, which makes things better in Japan’s market”. On 21 December the European Council is due to formally approve the deal: following that, starting from 1 February 2019, the agreement measures will enter into force. “Thanks to such commercial pact, we will be able to sell our shoes to 127 million consumers (less than 3% of unemployed individuals), who belong to the second most developed economy in the world”, commented Sagripanti. CEC also cleared up that footwear manufacturers will be entitled to benefit from such measures if they prove that shoes have been “sufficiently” transformed in Italy or in any other EU country.



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