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Japan: Act on Promotion of Exports of Agricultural, Forestry, Fishery and Food Products Enacted

(Dec. 16, 2019) The Diet, Japan’s parliament, enacted the Act on Promotion of Exports of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products, and Food (Food Exports Promotion Act, Act No. 57 of 2019 (Reiwa 1)) in November 2019. The Act will take effect on April 1, 2020. (Food Exports Promotion Act, Supp. Provisions art. 1.)

Japan’s food exports have grown in recent years. The Japanese government has made significant efforts to increase exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery, and food products by promoting Japanese cuisine overseas and other measures. For example, the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center was established within the government-related Japan External Trade Organization on April 1, 2017, and has devoted its resources to the branding of Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery, and food products. To further increase the export of such products, the new Act aims to facilitate their exportation by streamlining export-related systems, such as government negotiations with importing countries and export certifications.

In accordance with the Food Exports Promotion Act, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) will establish the Headquarters for the Export of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products, and Food, whose members include the minister of Foreign Affairs, the minister of Finance, and the minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. (Arts. 3 & 7.) The Headquarters will set the basic policy on export promotion matters, make and manage action plans, and coordinate relevant agencies. (Arts. 10 & 14.)

The Food Exports Promotion Act also will improve the export certification system. Even though many importing countries require certificates of export, Japanese law has yet to clearly delineate the authority of ministries and prefectures to provide the certificates. Under the Act, the ministers of MAFF; Health, Labour and Welfare; and Finance, as well as governors of prefectures will have a clear basis for issuing certificates pertaining to exports, production in designated areas, and processing facilities. Certificates of exports prove the products meet the standards that the importing countries require. (Art. 15.) Certificates of production in designated areas prove the products or foods were produced, processed, or distributed in the suitable areas required by importing countries. (Art. 16.) Certificates of processing facilities prove the products were produced, processed, or distributed in facilities that satisfy the health and hygiene rules of importing countries. (Art. 17.) The Act also enables certified and registered institutions to issue certification for processing facilities. (Art. 2, para. 3; art. 17, para. 3; art. 20.)

Further, the Food Exports Promotion Act will make obtaining loans easier for food export businesses that plan to innovate production and distribution of food products. (Arts. 34–37.)