Barriers to trade exist in all economies throughout the world. The barriers distort the production, consumption and trade of goods. The effects of trade barrier on the trade of agricultural commodities has been the focus of much attention in recent years. Japan is one country that has been criticised for the measures used to protect the Japanese agricultural sector. Access to the large affluent consumer market in Japan, especially for food products, is important for several trading partners. While the pressure from trading partners has improved access to Japan's markets it has revealed other obstacles to trade. Barriers to trade can be classified into explicit, that is barriers that are specific and the intention clear, or implicit, barriers that are implied with no clear intent.
Changes to Japan's importing procedures and business environment are significant for firms wanting to export to Japan. This thesis examines non-tariff barriers in Japan's food sector, in particular the import quotas and the distribution system. To examine the effect of lowering or removing import quotas import data for ice cream, yoghurt, whey and tomato products were collected. Analysis of the data indicates that following the modification to import procedures the quantities imported have increased. However imports tend to be more variable than prior to the changes.
The distribution system was identified by the United states as a barrier to trade. This thesis examines in some detail the distribution system. The distribution system is a complex system of supply networks that is difficult for new firms, both domestic and foreign, to enter. A survey of Australian food processors experiences and perceptions of exporting to Japan was undertaken. The results suggest that the Japanese distribution system, business practices in Japan and Australian government regulations affect exports to Japan. The results also revealed that exporting to Japan is influenced to a large degree by perceptions of the market.