A guide to exporting to Japan

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses worldwide. Still, Japan showed resilience and the potential to recover by offering a diverse marketplace to Australian exporters. Learn more on what’s required and the import tax and law on Australian goods before exporting them to Japan.

Valued at AU$46.4 billion in 2020, and accounting for 10.6% of its total exports, Japan is Australia's second largest two-way trade partner, as quoted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In 2020, Japan’s exports from Australia consisted of natural gas (AU$14.2 billion), coal (AU$11.7 billion), iron ore and concentrates (AU$ 6.6 billion), copper ores and concentrates (AU$1.1 billion), aluminum (AU$0.8 billion), and beef (AU$2.2 billion).

Under the Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) that was ratified in 2015, there are a lot of opportunities for exporting to Japan. Should you be thinking of exporting your goods to Japan, this article will be the best place to help you understand the complete process of what you should know and do.

1. What to look out for before exporting to Japan

Before doing any business in a country, one must understand that particular country’s business culture and its import and export market. To conduct a successful import and export business that caters to Asian countries like Japan, you’ll need to be aware of how business dealings are being conducted there and the common export challenges you might encounter. In Japanese culture, punctuality is expected from business partners, tardiness is frowned upon and this must be respected.

What must I do before exporting to Japan?

If you wish to start an import and export business in Japan, you should keep a lookout for the following:

  • For all export goods, you must identify the tariff codes for those goods in which Japanese Customs duties and tax apply. These can be found by referring to Japan’s Harmonised System (HS) codes which are 9-digit codes that can be found on the country’s Customs website.

  • Once you have identified the HS codes for the goods you wish to export to Japan, you will have to go through the tariff schedules under the JAEPA agreement to find out which tariffs apply to those goods.

  • The next step is to determine whether your goods meet the rules of origin, after which, reduced tariffs would then apply under the JAEPA trade agreement. Simply put, your export goods must 'originate' in Australia in order to qualify for preferential tariffs under JAEPA. 

  • After that, you’ll need a certificate of origin that certifies your goods meet the rules of origin. This certificate needs to be attested by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

  • Once all these documents are in place, you are now able to export your goods to Japan. 

Do I need a license to export to Japan?

Import licensing might be required for some types of imports. There are two categories of such licenses: Import Quota (IQ) and Import Declaration (ID). IQ is imposed on some food items, some of which include dairy products, seafood, cereals, and grains. For these items, an IQ must be obtained from Japan’’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). In the case of ID, no prior approval from METI is required, but only an import declaration is required for a wide range of goods that consists of items such as raw materials, semi-finished products, and manufactured goods

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2. Import taxes and laws on Australian goods

When exporting to Japan, import licenses are required for certain goods. Japan prohibits the import of items that violate intellectual property laws.

Australian exporters enjoy various benefits related to tariffs with regards to imports and exports to Japan. JAEPA will allow duty-free customs and/or preferential tariff access to Japanese markets for 97% of Australia’s exports. This includes reducing agricultural tariffs and abolishing taxes on 99.7% of Australian resources, energy, and manufacturing exports.

Apart from the above-mentioned rules, there are specific labeling, packaging, and certification laws on Australian goods, should they be exported to Japan:

  • Food items must have labeling stickers with a detailed description of its ingredients, contents, name and address of importer, as well as date of manufacture in Japanese

  • Containers of canned and bottled goods must be marked in metric measurement

  • Drug usage instructions need to be printed in Japanese

  • Straw packing materials are prohibited

  • Frozen vegetables and fruits must be accompanied by a certificate of condition (Form E46)

  • Food imports require a permit issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

  • Electrical appliances must conform to the Electric Appliance Control Law

  • Machine tools that are less than a year old must be accompanied by a date of manufacture certificate

3. Popular items to export to Japan 

Beef is Australia's fourth-largest export to Japan. There are real opportunities for businesses with regards to the exportation of seafood, horticulture, processed food, and beverages. Japan considers Australia a safe, secure, and reliable supplier of food items, thus there are great export opportunities in Japan for Australian businesses in this sector. Other sectors which hold potential for export opportunities from Australia include all-natural Australian sSea sSalt flakes, fFortified/fFunctional (FF) packaged food, pPlant-based food, and beverages such as almond milk, rice milk, macadamia milk, and oat milk. 

How DHL Express can help when exporting to Japan

DHL Express is a reliable trade partner whose expertise will greatly help businesses such as yours when planning to export to Japan. A dedicated flight between Sydney and Tokyo provides the industry's fastest transit time on the Australia to Japan route. DHL’s three international gateways, including via Nagoya’s Central Japan International Airport (NGO), . that ensures timely shipping and delivery of your products to your customers.

For more information about how DHL Express can be beneficial in your preferred choice for export services, open an account with us and start enjoying the benefits of MyDHL+ today.



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