Liz Truss wants Japanese post-Brexit deal to reference Stilton cheese to prove it’s a better deal than we already had

PUBLISHED: 09:56 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:47 11 August 2020

International trade secretary Liz Truss. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA.

International trade secretary Liz Truss. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA.

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The government is calling for Stilton cheese to be added to the final version of the UK-Japan trade deal to prove the agreement will better than the current arrangement between the EU and Japan.

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UK and Japanese negotiators had already reached a preliminary deal during recent talks in London in what Downing Street has been bigging up as its first post-Brexit trade deal.

But after reaching agreement on auto tariffs and financial services, international trade secretary Liz Truss has insisted Britain’s iconic cheese - Stilton - be added to a final deal.

Truss is known as a staunch defender of Britain’s cheese industry, once declaring the country’s importing of cheese a “disgrace”.

MORE: Boris Johnson’s ‘lucrative’ post-Brexit trade deals bound to damage UK economy, study claims

According to the Nikkei Asian Review business newspaper, British farmers are pressuring Boris Johnson to bag preferential treatment for one of Britain’s most loved cheeses because they fear they could be hit hard by the imminent loss of EU subsidies.

Japan has already promised to phase out tariffs on hard cheese by 2033 but refused to do the same for soft varieties, the FT writes, and is reportedly reluctant to offer better terms than it gave the EU, which has a combined population seven time greater than Britain’s.

Britain exported £18m of blue cheese globally last year, the FT said, citing data from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, but just £102,000 of that went to Japan.

Truss is now reportedly hoping to point to Japanese concessions over Stilton as proof that Britain has improved on the EU’s trade deal with Japan.

Officials in Japan have not denied the claims but remained confident a deal would be reached by the end of August.

In a statement on the progress of talks, Truss said: “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.”

The trade deal with Japan is expected to add 0.07% to Britain’s GDP after Brexit.

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