Liz Truss 'sought to make Stilton a key part in post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and Japan'

Mark Shapland
·2-min read
Ms Truss was grilled over the Conservative government's housing strategy: Reuters
Ms Truss was grilled over the Conservative government's housing strategy: Reuters

Securing trade deals was never going to be easy and current talks taking place between Tokyo and London show just how difficult the process can be.

It is understood both sides are close to putting pen to paper but issues over Stilton cheese have put a spanner in the works.

According to reports in Japan, the UK trade secretary Liz Truss is under pressure from farmers who want more preferential trade terms for its blue cheeses.

A deal may be an easy win for Japan as the UK only sold £18 million of blue cheese last year around the globe and £102,000 to the Japanese.

Japan is prepared to phase out tariffs on hard cheeses such as cheddar by 2033, but is refusing to go soft on fresh and blue-veined varieties, which would have duty-free access on an agreed quota by the same date, the Financial Times reported.

Truss holds Stilton close to her heart and it has appeared in many of her most prominent public speeches in the past.

The UK has been keen to sign a quick new deal with Japan and advance the UK's accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move which would improve market access for UK businesses across the Asia-Pacific region.

The talks involve around 100 negotiators from the UK side taking part in negotiations by holding video conferences with their Japanese counterparts every day.

UK trade with Japan was worth more than £30 billion last year, with 9,500 companies exporting goods to the Asian country, according to Government figures.

Government analysis suggests a free trade agreement between the UK and Japan would bring greatest benefits to Scotland, London and the East Midlands.

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