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Japan - Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages


Khaled Hamadmad

on 17 February 2013

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Transcript of Japan - Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages

The EU, Canada and the U.S. argued that “spirits”
(in particular vodka, gin and rum) are like
(and directly competitive and substitutable)
products to Shochu. Arguments of the parties involved Arguments of the parties involved Japan claimed that the purpose of the tax classification under
the Liquor Tax Law is not to afford protection
and does not have the effect of protecting domestic production.

Japan argued that the Liquor Tax Law does not violate Article III:2
because spirits, whisky/brandy and liqueurs are not “like products”
to Shochu, nor are they “directly competitive and
substitutable products”.
Japan - Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages
APPELLATE BODY EU, Canada and U.S. Japan The judgement * The Japanese Liqueur Tax Law (Shuzeiho) taxed liquors basing on the
type of beverage; some of the major imported liquor were taxed
seven/eight times compared to Japanese liquors such as Shochu.

* In 1995 the European Union, Canada and the United States called for consultation contesting the Japanese Liqueur Tax Law Chronology for ensuing dispute Establishment of Panel: 27 September 1995

Circulation of Panel Report: 11 July 1996

Circulation of AB Report: 4 October 1996

Adoption: 1 November 1996
Facts of the case and ensuing dispute Japan is a member of the WTO
and therefore art. III
of GATT 1994 applies. Law applicable to the case Reasoning for judgement First, Shochu is proved to be a like product to
(and directly competitive and substitutable with)
imported spirits.

Second, imported spirits were proved to be taxed higher
than Shochu.
Therefore, the Japanese Liquor Tax Law violated
article III of the GATT, stating the National Treatment Principle.

According to this principle, no differences
(in this specific case in the taxation system)
should be made between imported
and domestic products. This different taxation have therefore a protectionist effect. Therefore, the Liquor Tax Law violates GATT 1994 art. III:2,
because it applies a higher tax rate on the category of
spirits than on the like products. The panel held that the Japanese Liquor Tax Law
violated GATT and in particular its art. III.

This article states the National Treatment principle,
one of the fundamental principles of the WTO.

The AB confirmed the Panel’s decision.
Japan - Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages
APPELLATE BODY EU, Canada and U.S. Thank you Japan EU, Canada and U.S. Japan Facts Chronology Arguments
Full transcript