Japan Imposes Emergency Tariffs On Imports Of US Frozen Beef

Frozen beef slices in hoarfrost close

Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday the Japanese government will impose emergency tariffs on frozen beef from the United States and other regions, widely used in fast food, from August due to soaring shipments.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government is going to explain the move to the U.S. and other countries.

Tariffs on frozen beef from the affected regions will be raised from the current 38.5 percent to 50 percent from August 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, according to the government. "It would also negatively affect Japanese consumers by raising prices and limiting their access to high-quality USA frozen beef", Perdue says. The duty on USA frozen beef imports, effective August 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018, will be 50% while the duty on Australian beef will remain at the current rate of 27.2%, as established in the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).

Trade data released earlier Friday showed that frozen beef imports reached 89,253 tons in the April-June quarter, up 17.1% from a year earlier. But frozen beef accounts for only about of fifth of Japan's total beef imports.

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. "This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products".

Industry players were concerned that the Japanese tariffs would put USA producers at a disadvantage to Australian rivals, who were not subject to a tariff hike due to a trade agreement between the two countries.

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says he's concerned this increase in Japan's tariffs will affect U.S. beef sales with the country.

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. The duty increases from 38.5% to 50% when imports exceed the safeguard volume.

The tariff hike is a "safeguard" mechanism to protect domestic farmers, Japan's ministry said. The most recent quarter saw strong growth in imports from all of Japan's main beef suppliers.

Trade terms Japan negotiated with the 10 other remaining members of the TPP remain in force.

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