Preferential trade disappoints Japanese exporters


A story in the WTO Reporter, passed along by Richard Baldwin, says that trade “preferences” aren’t what they used to be:

The Japan-Thailand economic partnership agreement took effect Nov. 1, but in a technical twist, Thai tariffs on more than a quarter, or about 2,500 Japanese export goods, remain unchanged or end up being higher than the general tariffs that Thailand previously charged…

The Japan External Trade Organization is telling exporters to make sure to compare Thai general tariff rates with those under the Japan-Thai EPA and choose the lower ones, Harino said, admitting that it is “very complicated” work…

The two countries commenced EPA talks in 2004, and during the intervening period to date, Bangkok lowered its general tariffs on many industrial products, such as auto engines, auto parts, and tires. Of some 10,000 Japanese export items that would qualify for Japan-Thai EPA tariff cuts, approximately 25 percent would be either unchanged or end up being higher than WTO-based MFN general tariff rates until next March.