Japan's emergency tariffs on frozen beef imports likely to irk US

Japan's emergency tariffs on frozen beef imports likely to irk US

Japan's Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Friday the country will raise tariffs on frozen beef imports from the USA and other countries to protect domestic producers starting in August.

"I am concerned that an increase in Japan's tariff on frozen beef imports will impede USA beef sales and is likely to increase the United States' overall trade deficit with Japan", Perdue said in a statement.

From April to June of this year alone, Japan imported almost 100,000 tons of beef; around 41,000 tons of that beef came from non-EPA countries like America.

Mexico sends about 2.7 percent of its total exports to Japan, mostly frozen beef, and could take advantage of the tariffs to boost that.

Japan's beef bowl restaurants suffered tremendous setbacks when US beef imports were previously curtailed, and were "finally enjoying robust growth due to greater availability of USA beef", USMEF's Seng said.

Japan has made a decision to impose emergency tariffs after frozen beef imports reached 89,253 tonnes in the April-to-June quarter, up 17.1 per cent from a year earlier.

Japan's farm minister Yuji Yamamoto told reporters on Friday that the measures would only have "limited effects" on ordinary consumers as frozen beef affected by the emergency measure accounts for only 20 percent of Japan's total beef imports.

Japan will raise tariffs from August on imports of frozen beef, popular in beef bowl dishes, from the United States and some other countries to 50 percent from 38.5 percent, until next March, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. "This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products", US secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

According the Wall Street Journal, this is the first time that such a tariff has been instituted on US beef in 14 years.

USA farmers had been hoping for wider access to Japan's lucrative market through a Pacific Rim trade initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The move, the first such step in 14 years involving beef, comes after President Donald Trump named Japan as one of the countries contributing to the US trade deficit.

"U.S. beef needs all the demand it can get", said John Nalivka, president of industry research firm Sterling Marketing.

No safeguard or increase will be triggered for chilled beef imports as the volumes did not exceed the required level. The most recent quarter saw strong growth in imports from all of Japan's main beef suppliers. The snapback duties on Australian beef have also been reduced, minimizing any potential impact on trade.