Cheesed off: Stilton proves to be unexpected barrier in UK-Japan trade talks, FT reports
While talks over a UK-Japan trade deal are ongoing, the Financial Times reports that negotiations may have hit a snag after international trade secretary Liz Truss sought better terms for trading British blue cheeses.
Sales of British blue cheese to Japan were only worth £102,000 in 2019, but dairy and other food products are the UK’s largest export to the country.
A better deal for blue cheese could culminate in a superior trade deal to the EU agreement with Japan, which secured a tariff cut of €1 billion on food products.
Truss is a known advocate of UK produce, and during her stint as environment secretary she vehemently opposed the fact that the UK imported “two-thirds of our apples, nine-tenths of our pears, and two-thirds of our cheese” during a speech at the 2014 Conservative Party conference.
The Department for International Trade declined to comment, but both the UK and Japan had been hopeful that a trade deal could be agreed by the end of August.
Truss said earlier in August: "Negotiations have been positive and productive, and we have reached consensus on the major elements of a deal - including ambitious provisions in areas like digital, data and financial services that go significantly beyond the EU-Japan deal.
"Our shared aim is to reach a formal agreement in principle by the end of August."