March 25, 2021
On April 1, 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) will start simplified procedures for exporting specific agricultural, forestry and fishery products with geographical indications (hereinafter referred to as “GI products”) taking advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
Overview of simplified EPA-based procedures for exporting GI products
On April 1, 2021, taking into consideration the characteristics of the Geographical Indication (GI) Protection System,* METI and MAFF will allow exporters which intend to export GI products which have previously been confirmed to be those originating in Japan to file applications for the issuance of specified certificates of origin** with the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) by making use of their invoices, shipping slips and other documents with the indications of registered names of the GI products, instead of filing production certificate made by the producer (e.g. farmer). With these simplified procedures, exporters do not need to acquire production certificate made by the producer.
*Note 1: GI Protection System
Under the Act on Protection of Names of Specific Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Foodstuffs (commonly called the “Geographical Indication Act”), the GI Protection System aims to help producers and other businesses to register and protect as intellectual property the names of their products whose quality and other characteristics have close relationships with the characteristics of production areas, etc., including traditional production methods and regional climates, cultures and soil. Specifically, under the system, such producers are eligible to register their products (specific agricultural, forestry and fishery products, etc.) together with the production areas and the level of quality thereof, and if the products satisfy the registration requirements, to indicate on their products a “GI Mark,” a registration emblem together with a GI. The list of GI products is accessible on the MAFF website.
**Note 2: Filing applications for the issuance of specified certificates of origin
In order to export agricultural, forestry and fishery products and foods originating in Japan under the EPAs, e.g., between Japan and Thailand or Japan and Indonesia, exporters are required to acquire production certificate made by the producer, etc. of products to be exported to certify the products originating in Japan and to file such certificates with the JCCI to complete application procedures for the issuance of specified certificates of origin.
In July 2019, METI compiled and published a guideline titled “Examples of Required Documents Submitted for Application Procedures and Points to Note (Edition for Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products),” which includes measures for improving the procedures for filing applications for the issuance of specified certificates of origin, e.g., standardization and simplification of documents, and, this time, it added to the guideline simplified procedures for filing production certificate made by the producer taking advantage of the GI Protection System.