Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and Japan have progressed largely smoothly but have hit a stumbling block regarding Stilton cheese, according to local media Tuesday.
Stilton is an English cheese which is blue, semi-soft, crumbly and creamy. It is only licensed to be made in three of England’s shires: Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Both sides said they are optimistic an agreement can be reached by the end of the month and implemented by the end of the year, when Britain’s transition period out of the European Union ends.
One of the remaining issues to be sorted is food and agricultural products.
Japan already has a trade agreement with the EU, and the UK-Japan trade deal builds on it.
Japan wants to keep existing EU tariffs on the British blue cheese, but the UK wants better terms – especially because doing so will prove Brexit allows Britain to secure better trade deals outside the EU and bolster the case made by the pro-Brexit government.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said last week that talks were “positive and constructive” and there was agreement on the “major elements of a deal.”
Truss is a vocal backer of British cheese, saying at a 2014 Conservative Party conference that it was a “disgrace” that the UK imports “two-thirds of our cheese.”