Beer is a drink that has been enjoyed in communities across Europe for several thousand years. While the beer cultures across Europe vary significantly, with differing beer styles and consumption habits, beer plays an important role in every European Union country and forms an integral part of the culture, heritage and alimentation. The key components of beer are of natural origin and comprise water, cereals, hops and yeast. Water is the most important raw material used by the brewing sector, representing on average about 92% of beer.
Spirits drinks also have a long European heritage. The Spirit Drinks Regulation defines spirit drinks as alcoholic beverages possessing particular organoleptic qualities and having a minimum alcoholic strength of 15 % volume. Spirit drinks are produced by distilling naturally fermented products and/or macerating plant materials in ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin; by adding flavourings to ethyl alcohol or distillates; or by mixing a spirit drink with another drink.
Regarding the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, Japan already applies a zero Most Favoured Nation import duties for beer, as well as for a number of spirits (spirits obtained by distilling grapes, whiskies and fruit brandies). The other spirits have had, as an EPA concession, duties eliminated at the entry into force of the Agreement on 01/02/2019, or duties phased out over a period of time. A number of geographical indications of EU spirits and beers will be registered and protected in Japan.
The complete text of the EPA, and Annexes, incorporating the Articles on Spirits and Beers, can be found on the following website of the European Commission: https://policy.trade.ec.europa.eu/eu-trade-relationships-country-and-region/countries-and-regions/japan/eu-japan-agreement/eu-japan-agreement-chapter-chapter_en
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