Iii trade policies and practices by measure


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Japan WT/TPR/S/243
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III.trade policies and practices by measure

(1)Introduction


            1. Since its previous Trade Policy Review in 2009, Japan has refrained from introducing new trade barriers; on the other hand, it has introduced few measures aimed at further liberalizing its trade and related regimes. The Government introduced expansionary fiscal measures in FY2009 and in FY2010 in order to recover from the latest recession, but it is ambiguous whether these measures are temporary, and some state-owned bodies were established to inject funds into private companies, perhaps in the context of industrial policies. Although "buy Japanese" programmes are not prevalent, there are some programmes that aim to promote the consumption of domestic goods (timbers).

            2. The tariff continues to be Japan's main border restriction. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, the simple average applied MFN tariff rate was 5.8%, down from 6.1% in FY2008, reflecting an average decrease of ad valorem equivalents of non-ad valorem duties. Non-ad valorem duties, which account for 6.6% of Japan's tariff lines, tend to involve high ad valorem equivalents, and are an important feature of Japan's tariff, particularly for agricultural products. Whereas the simple average tariff rate under the GSP is 4.6% (down from 4.9% in FY2008), that for LDCs is 0.5% (same as in FY2008). Japan's simple average tariff rates under bilateral FTAs range from 2.9% (Malaysia and Thailand) to 3.4% (Brunei).

            3. Japan's non-tariff border measures include some import prohibitions and quantitative import restrictions (for example, import quotas on some fish). State trading involves leaf tobacco, opium, rice, wheat and barley, and milk products.

            4. Japan makes little use of contingency measures. It has continued to apply two anti-dumping measures during the review period, but eliminated one countervailing measure; it has not imposed any safeguard measures since 2001, when it applied them on Welsh onions, Shiitake mushrooms, and tatami-omote.

            5. No preferences are granted to domestic suppliers with regard to procurement covered by the Agreement on Government Procurement. Nonetheless, it would appear that government procurement is used as an instrument of economic policy, particularly in some sectors (e.g. timber) and for SMEs. The share of foreign suppliers in the total value of government procurement was 3.0% in 2009, down from 3.7% in 2008. The share of procurement of overseas goods and services, supplied by domestic or foreign suppliers, declined to 7.1% in 2008 (from 9.1% in 2007) in terms of value. In 2008, the share of open tendering in total procurement rose to 63.5% compared with 58.6% in 2007. It would appear that Japan will start giving preferences for the use of domestic wood in public procurement.

            6. About 46% of Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) were aligned to international standards in 2009 (unchanged since 2008). Although Japan maintains that its SPS measures are based on scientific grounds to assess risks, it has apparently not conducted cost-benefit analyses to justify such risk factors.

            7. Japan maintains certain export controls on national security and public safety grounds and to preserve natural resources. Export finance, insurance, and guarantees are available. Duty drawback schemes are available on selected inputs for certain manufacturing; they do not necessarily refund 100% of duties paid. The Government has recently begun promoting agricultural exports, mainly by providing information to consumers overseas.

            8. Although the amount of taxes collected in relation to GDP is relatively low in Japan, in compared with other OECD countries, Japan has relatively high statutory rates of corporate taxes. Japan recognizes a need to broaden the income tax base and cut corporate tax rates, thereby rendering the income tax system more neutral. It has also introduced plans to reduce tax incentives.

            9. Various laws on intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been amended since Japan's previous Review with a view to, inter alia, strengthening the role of Customs in enforcement, and expanding the scope of application of criminal penalties for infringement of trade secrets. Japan remains an active participant in multinational and regional discussions on agreements to promote international harmonization of regimes protecting IPRs.

            10. It would appear that the pace of Japan's trade-related regulatory reforms has slowed, if not reversed, since 2009. In June 2010, it introduced a New Growth Strategy, focusing on seven priority areas. It remains to be seen whether the measures to be adopted in accordance with the strategy involve policies to "pick winners". It has continued to implement regulatory reforms in selected regions under the scheme of special zones for structural reform; some of these reforms have now been implemented nationwide.

            11. The authorities intend to continue to strengthen competition policy. In this regard, the Anti-monopoly Act (AMA) was amended in June 2009 to, inter alia, introduce a surcharge (fine) in respect of practices involving exclusionary types of private monopolization, and a 50% increase in the surcharge on businesses that have played a leading role in cartels and bid-rigging.

            12. To improve the transparency of listed companies, Japan increased the coverage of items subject to disclosure requirement; these include directors' remuneration, information on cross-share holding, and matters pertaining to the exercise of voting rights.
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