Trade policy review report by the secretariat

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19 January 2015


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Trade Policy Review Body




This report, prepared for the twelfth Trade Policy Review of Japan, has been drawn up by the WTO Secretariat on its own responsibility. The Secretariat has, as required by the Agreement establishing the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (Annex 3 of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization), sought clarification from Japan on its trade policies and practices.

Any technical questions arising from this report may be addressed to Ricardo Barba Viniegra (tel.: 022 739 5088) and John Finn (tel.: 022 739 5081).
Document WT/TPR/G/310 contains the policy statement submitted by Japan.

Note: This report is subject to restricted circulation and press embargo until the end of the first session of the meeting of the Trade Policy Review Body on Japan. This report was drafted in English.




2.1   Recent Economic Developments 10

2.2   Trade Performance and FDI 12

2.2.1   Trade in goods and services 12

2.2.2   Foreign direct investment 15

2.3   Outlook 16


3.1   General Framework 18

3.2   Trade Policy Objectives 19

3.3   Trade Agreements and Arrangements 20

3.3.1   WTO 20

3.3.2   Regional and preferential agreements 20

3.3.3   Other agreements and arrangements 21

3.4   Investment Regime 21


4.1   Measures Directly Affecting Imports 24

4.1.1   Customs procedures and requirements 24

4.1.2   Customs valuation 24

4.1.3   Rules of origin 25

4.1.4   Tariffs 25   MFN applied tariff 25   Bound tariff 28   Preferential tariff 28

4.1.5   Import prohibitions, restrictions, licensing, and quotas 29

4.1.6   Contingency trade measures 30

4.1.7   Standards and other technical requirements 30

4.1.8   Sanitary and phytosanitary measures 34

4.1.9   Labelling and packaging requirements 36

4.1.10   Government procurement 37

4.2   Measures Directly Affecting Exports 39

4.2.1   Export procedures and requirements 39

4.2.2   Export taxes, charges, and levies 40

4.2.3   Export prohibitions, restrictions, and licensing 40

4.2.4   Export support and promotion 41

4.3   Measures Affecting Production and Trade 42

4.3.1   Taxes 42   Income tax 43   Corporation tax 43   Corporation tax-based incentives 44   Consumption tax 44   Local taxes 44   Excise duties 45   Tax treaties 46

4.3.2   Subsidies and support 46

4.3.3   State-owned enterprises 47

4.3.4   Competition policy 49   Recent developments 49   Exemptions from prohibition of cartels 49   Holding companies, and mergers and acquisitions 50   International arrangements 50   Enforcement 50

4.3.5   Intellectual property rights (IPRs) 51   Overview 51   Patents 53   Utility models (UMs) 55   Designs 56   Trademarks 56   Geographical indications (GIs) 57   Copyright 58   Enforcement 58


5.1   Agriculture 60

4.1.1   Trade 61

5.1.2   Agricultural policies 63   Legal and institutional framework 63   Trade policies 64   Domestic support 65   General support programmes 65   Rice 66   Other cereals, sugar beet and starch potatoes 67   Fruits and vegetables 67   Tobacco 67   Livestock products 68   Dairy 68   Support levels 68   WTO notifications 68   OECD indicators 70

5.2   Fisheries 73

5.2.1   Features 73

5.2.2   Trade 75

5.2.3   Policy 76   Reconstruction 77   Stock management 77   International agreements 78   Support for fisheries 78

5.3   Energy 79

5.3.1   Features 79

5.3.2   Electricity 80   Features 80   Policy and legislation 81

5.4   Finance 83

5.4.1   Features 83

5.4.2   Banking 84

5.4.3   Insurance 85

5.4.4   Securities 86

5.4.5   Pension and mutual funds 88

5.5   Telecommunications 89

5.5.1   Features 89

5.5.2   Policy and legislation 89

5.6   Transport 91

5.6.1   Maritime transport 91

5.6.2   Air transport 94

5.6.3   Rail transport 96



Chart 1.1 Product composition of merchandise trade, 2011 and 2013 14

Chart 1.2 Direction of merchandise trade, 2011 and 2013 15

Chart 3.3 Tariff distribution by type of duty, FY2014 26

Chart 3.4 Share of non-ad valorem duties, by HS section, FY2014 27

Chart 3.5 Simple average applied MFN tariff rates, by HS section, FY2012 and FY2014 28

Chart 3.6 Flowchart of JIS developing process 33

Chart 3.7 Flowchart of JAS developing bodies 34

Chart 3.8 Structure of IPR administration and enforcement 52

Chart 3.9 Flowchart for patent applications 54

Chart 3.10 Procedure for registering a trademark 57

Chart 4.11 Trade in agriculture, 2004-13 62

Chart 4.12 Support notified to the WTO Committee on Agriculture, FY2003-12 69

Chart 4.13 Green Box support, FY2003-12 70

Chart 4.14 Amber Box support, FY2003-12 71

Chart 4.15 Value of production and support to agriculture, 2001-13 72

Chart 4.16 Electricity regions, peak demand and interconnections, 2012 81


Table 1.1 Selected macroeconomic indicators, 2009-13 10

Table 1.2 Balance of payments, 2009-13 12

Table 1.3 Foreign direct investment, 2009-13 16

Table 2.4 Major trade-related laws and regulations, October 2014 18

Table 2.5 Trade agreements concluded by, not yet in force and under negotiation 20

Table 2.6 Bilateral investment treaties in force 22

Table 2.7 Tax conventions 23

Table 3.8 Structure of MFN tariffs, FY2010, FY2012 and FY2014 25

Table 3.9 Summary analysis of Japan's preferential tariffs, FY2014 29

Table 3.10 Main laws on standards and technical regulations 31

Table 3.11 JIS established, revised, and withdrawn, April 2013-March 2014 32

Table 3.12 Principal laws on SPS measures 35

Table 3.13 Procurement by product and by origin, 2011 and 2012 38

Table 3.14 Principal legislation affecting exports 39

Table 3.15 NEXI insurance activity, FY2009-13 41

Table 3.16 JBIC lending and investments, FY2009-13 41

Table 3.17 JBIC funding sources, FY2009-12 42

Table 3.18 Tax revenue, FY2009-13 43

Table 3.19 Maximum rates of enterprise taxes 45

Table 3.20 Excise duties 45

Table 3.21 State trading enterprises notified to the WTO under Article XVII 47

Table 3.22 Aggregate data on State-owned enterprises in Japan 48

Table 3.23 Large state enterprises, FY2013 48

Table 3.24 Exemptions under the Anti-Monopoly Act and individual laws 49

Table 3.25 Enforcement of competition policy, 2009-13 51

Table 3.26 Principal legislation relating to IPRs 52

Table 3.27 Patent applications and patents granted, 2005-13 55

Table 3.28 Utility models applications and registrations, 2005-13 56

Table 3.29 Design applications and registrations, 2005-13 56

Table 3.30 Trademark applications and registrations, 2005-13 57

Table 3.31 Seizure of imports, 2009-13 58

Table 4.32 Agriculture in the economy, 2004-12 60

Table 4.33 Farm households and average farm size, 2010-13 60

Table 4.34 Total agricultural production and production of selected products, 2003-12 61

Table 4.35 Imports of agricultural products, 2006-13 62

Table 4.36 Exports of agricultural products, 2006-13 63

Table 4.37 Imports under the SBS system, FY2009-11 65

Table 4.38 Payment rates for other cereals, sugar beet, and starch potatoes 67

Table 4.39 Administered prices for calves, beef, and pig meat, FY2014 68

Table 4.40 Total producer support estimate and single commodity transfer values for selected commodities, 2004-13 72

Table 4.41 Fish in the economy, 2005-13 73

Table 4.42 Fisheries production, 2004-12 74

Table 4.43 Fisheries landings in Japan, 2005-12 74

Table 4.44 Aquatic mammals taken by Japan, 2005-12 75

Table 4.45 Structure of fisheries, 2004-12 75

Table 4.46 Imports of fish products, 2006-13 75

Table 4.47 Exports of fish products, 2006-13 76

Table 4.48 Government transfers to fishing, 2005-11 78

Table 4.49 Total primary energy supply, 2005-12 80

Table 4.50 Production and consumption of electricity, 2005-12 80

Table 4.51 Power production in Japan in FY1994 and FY2012 81

Table 4.52 Maritime transport, main economic indicators, June 2012 91

Table 4.53 Trade-related maritime transport policies 93

Table 4.54 Bilateral air transport agreements, 2014 96

Table 4.55 Railway transport in Japan, FY2011 96

Table 4.56 JR Group, FY2013 97


Box 3.1 Agencies in charge of TBT issues 31

Box 3.2 Key agencies responsible for SPS measures 35

Box 4.3 Market and regulatory regime for financial services, general overview 83

Box 4.4 Market and regulatory regime for banking 85

Box 4.5 Market and regulatory regime for insurance 86

Box 4.6 Market and regulatory regime for securities 87

Box 4.7 Market and regulatory regime for pension funds and mutual funds 88

Box 4.8 Market structure and regulatory regime for telecommunications sector, 2013 89

Box 4.9 Japan's market and regulatory regime for air transport subsectors, 2014 95

Box 4.10 Regulatory framework for railway transport in Japan, 2012 98







  1. Since December 2012, Japan has been implementing an ambitious reform programme to overcome deflation and revitalize its economy after more than a decade of sluggish performance. The programme consists of a "three arrows strategy": monetary easing (2% inflation target to be achieved at the earliest possible time mainly through the expansion of the monetary base); fiscal stimulus (about US$100 billion in January 2013 and an extra US$53 billion in December 2013 in an attempt to boost growth); and structural reforms in areas such as agriculture, energy and healthcare which will take longer to be implemented, not least because the reforms require legislative and administrative changes that take time to prepare.

  2. The expansionary monetary and fiscal policy measures adopted since the last review have supported Japan's economy but have been insufficient to achieve strong economic growth. Indeed, Japan's real GDP growth is estimated at 0.9% for 2014 (down from 1.5% both in 2012 and 2013). The authorities recognize that far-reaching structural reforms are necessary to address long standing structural problems and achieve sustainable growth in the future. While some steps have been taken in this regard, more is needed including further trade and investment liberalization measures so as to encourage private investment, increase productivity, and enhance competitiveness.

  3. Since 2011, Japan has had a persistent trade deficit, the longest since comparable records began. In 2013, Japan had its biggest annual trade deficit (US$118 billion), although exports increased in U.S. dollar terms while imports grew to their highest-ever level. Increased imports of fossil fuels were a major factor in the rise in imports as they replaced energy from nuclear power following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 and the subsequent shut-down of other nuclear power plants.

  4. Japan's FDI inflows continue to be lower than in other major developed economies and the Japan Revitalization Strategy sets a target of doubling FDI by 2020. To achieve this, Japan is to expand the use of public-private partnerships, while private finance initiatives in infrastructure projects are envisaged over the next ten years. Japan is the second-largest outward direct investor in the world, particularly in certain ASEAN countries where subsidiaries of Japanese companies often play a leading role in sectors such as autos and electronics.

  5. Japan's current network of 13 regional trade agreements (RTAs) in force is the same as at the time of its previous review. Under these agreements, Japan has excluded some sensitive agricultural and related products, notably certain tariff lines for meat and meat products, fish and fish products, dairy products, rice, products of the milling industry, plywood, leather and products thereof, and footwear. Some of these products are also excluded from Japan's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme.

  6. During the review period, an RTA with Australia was signed, and another was reached in principle with Mongolia. In addition, Japan is in negotiations with: Canada; Colombia; China; the European Union; the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); the Republic of Korea; and Turkey. Moreover, Japan is part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership Agreement. Japan aims to increase its trade under RTAs from around 19% in 2013 to 70% by 2018.

  7. In general, Japan's trade policies during the review period have remained relatively stable while it has been actively negotiating RTAs, pursuing domestic reforms to improve its competitiveness, and participating in work in the WTO.

  8. Japan's overall simple average applied MFN tariff rate declined from 6.3% in FY2012 to 5.8% in FY2014 due to higher unit prices for many agricultural products which reduced the ad valorem equivalents (AVEs). Thus, the simple average for agriculture (WTO definition) is 14.9% (down from 17.5% in FY2012), and 3.7% for non-agricultural products (the same as in FY2012).

  9. Japan has bound 98.3% of its tariff (159 lines are unbound). The difference between the average bound MFN tariff (5.9%) and the average applied MFN tariff (5.8%) in FY2014 was negligible, which reflects a high degree of predictability in the tariff. However, the average bound rate remains considerably higher for agricultural products (15.2%) than for non-agricultural products (3.7%).

  10. Japan makes relatively little use of contingency trade remedies. It applied neither countervailing or safeguard measures during the review period and has only one anti-dumping duty in force on electrolytic manganese dioxide originating from China, South Africa, and Spain. The period of imposition was extended by five years and will expire on 5 March 2019. In 2014, Japan initiated an anti-dumping investigation on toluenediisocyanate from China.

  11. For a variety of reasons, Japan's SPS and TBT requirements are often more strict than international standards and the cost of meeting its quality and safety standards can be high. As at 31 March 2014, there were 10,525 Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS), 5,823 of which correspond with international standards, and 97% of JIS had been harmonized with identical or modified international standards. Japan currently imposes import prohibitions on beef and poultry from various countries to prevent the spread of some animal diseases, including BSE and avian flu.

  12. Japan made some changes to its government procurement framework, basically to preclude from participation in open tendering parties who, inter alia, intentionally execute construction works or services with poor workmanship, or overcharge by false reporting contracts. Japan also recently lowered some of its thresholds for goods and services under the GPA.

  13. The Anti-Monopoly Act was amended in December 2013, inter alia, to abolish the hearing procedure of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) for administrative appeals. Once the Act comes into force, any appeal regarding decisions of the JFTC will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court with a view to ensuring expertise and enhancing procedural fairness.

  14. The main developments regarding Japan's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework were the strengthening of copyright protection in the digital environment, introducing trademark protection for non traditional marks, improving the efficiency of the patent system, and an important judicial decision on the protection of standard essential patents. Japan remains an active participant in multilateral fora regarding harmonization of regimes protecting IPRs.

  15. Despite changes in agricultural programmes over the past few years, support and protection given to agriculture in Japan remains high compared to other countries and is provided by a comprehensive set of policies. While the government has continued to move toward income support, market price support is the main component and it, along with other transfers based on output and inputs, is potentially one of the most production and trade-distorting forms of support.

  16. As one of the biggest consumers of fish and seafood in the world, Japan provides a range of support measures to fisheries. The budget support to the sector increased after the extensive damage caused by the 2011 tsunami with the aim of completing the recovery of fishing port facilities by end-FY2015. Although the average applied MFN tariff on fish and fish products was 6.2% in FY2014 (same as in FY2012), import quotas apply to several species of fish.

  17. The shutdown of nuclear power plants following the accident in Fukushima in 2011 has provoked a major reconstruction programme. Although the electricity sector has been gradually reformed over the past twenty years, the regional utilities are still the main producers, transmitters, distributors, and retailers, while interchange between some of the regions remains limited. Recent amendments to the Electricity Business Act aim to secure a stable supply of electricity, suppressing electricity rates to the maximum extent possible, and expanding consumer choice and business opportunities.

  18. In the financial services sector, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan has amended rules on large exposures in line with international standards, with effect from December 2014. Through supervisory guidelines and related measures, the FSA revised the minimum capital requirements for internationally active banks and intends to introduce other capital buffers and liquidity measures in accordance with Basel III. On telecommunications and transport sectors, Japan's legislation and policies have remained largely unchanged.

  19. Overall, despite a long period of relatively weak economic performance and some severe shocks to the economy over the past few years, Japan remains an open transparent economy – although support and protection in some areas, particularly agriculture, remain high. Japan has many unique characteristics, some of which have helped it become the third richest country in the world, but others add to the cost of importing, exporting, investing, and doing business. Addressing many of these impediments to growth is the target of the third arrow of the current reform programme and necessary if growth is to accelerate to a higher and sustainable level.

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