Tariff-Free to Japan

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Tariff-free tequila flow from Mexico to Japan under FTA

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Kyodo) Mexico's tequila industry is expecting a sudden surge in shipments to Japan when the tariff of 25.2 yen per liter is completely removed under a Mexico-Japan free-trade pact that takes effect April 1.
Workers sort bottles of El Jimador at a plant owned by Herradura, one of Mexico's largest tequila exporters, in Amatitan, Jalisco State, in this file photo. 

Mexico and Japan reached a basic deal on the free-trade agreement last March, and the pact will be signed Friday by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Mexican President Vicente Fox in Mexico City.

Exports of tequila to the Japanese market "will immediately increase to 30 percent more than we export now and will be double in three years," said Eduardo Orendain, president of the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry. The chamber is based in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, about 400 km northwest of Mexico City.

Orendain, 45, said that Japan will quickly become one of the world's five largest importers of tequila. Japan is currently No. 7, after the United States, Germany, Greece, England, Canada and Italy.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan imported some 680 million yen worth of tequila in 2003, compared with 380 million yen worth in 2002.

Orendain feels "100 percent positive" about the future of tequila in the Japanese market.

"Why not with Japan?" Orendain asked, citing the FTA with the European Union that Mexico signed in 1997, which expanded exports of tequila to the EU by 50 percent.

Another factor to boost exports is recognition by the Japanese government of geographical indicators of tequila's origin to prevent imitation tequila from penetrating the market.

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