The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has called on members of the European Parliament to ratify the EU-Japan free trade agreement, knows as the Economic Partnership Agreement, when the matter comes before the Parliament for a vote on Wednesday (12 December).
The agreement was first signed on 17 July 2018 and when implemented it will introduce protection of the Irish whiskey geographic indication in Japan for the first time.
Japan offers the industry a trade zone of 600 million people, and covers a third of global GDP and about 40% of global trade,' the all-island representative trade association of the Irish whiskey industry said in a statement.
"Historically, sales of Irish whiskey in Asia and the Far East have been low," said William Lavelle, Head of the IWA.
"However, Japan represents the largest market for Irish whiskey in Asia and is among one of the Asian markets identified by the Irish Whiskey Association as offering significant future growth potential. Already, last year, sales of Irish whiskey grew by 15.6% in Japan."
Once the European Parliament and EU Council formally ratify it on the 1 February 2019, this will mean that only whiskey produced on the island of Ireland can be labelled and marketed as Irish whiskey in Japan.
"Protecting the name of Irish whiskey, and the high standards which are the hallmark of Irish whiskey, is critical to support future export growth. The EU-Japan agreement will extend protection to Irish whiskey in Japan for the first time and we would call on MEPs to ratify this deal on Wednesday."
The agreement represents the largest bilateral trade deal ever done by the EU, the IWA said.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.