Japan raises US beef tariff that TPP would have prevented
Citing rising imports of frozen beef, the Japanese government announced it will increase its tariff on U.S. beef in a manner the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have prevented.
The increase, from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, will begin Aug. 1, 2017, and last through March 31, 2018.
Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef, with sales of $1.5 billion per year.
The tariff would affect only exporters from countries, including the U.S., which do not have free trade agreements with Japan currently in force.
That means it does not affect beef from Australia, a producer who made gains in Japan in recent years and whose power Obama administration officials tried to counter with the TPP.
President Donald Trump withdrew from the TPP negotiations shortly after taking office.
“We’re very disappointed to learn that the tariff on frozen beef imports to Japan will increase from 38.5 percent to 50 percent until April 2018,” according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “We hope the Trump administration and congress realize that this unfortunate development underscores the urgent need for a bilateral trade agreement with Japan absent the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement: “I am concerned that an increase in Japan’s tariff on frozen beef imports will impede U.S. beef sales and is likely to increase the United States’ overall trade deficit with Japan. “This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products. It would also negatively affect Japanese consumers by raising prices and limiting their access to high-quality U.S. frozen beef. I have asked representatives of the Japanese government directly and clearly to make every effort to address these strong concerns, and the harm that could result to both American producers and Japanese consumers.”
The U.S. Meat Export Federation provided background on the situation in a news release.
“USMEF recognizes that the safeguard will not only have negative implications for U.S. beef producers, but will also have a significant impact on the Japanese foodservice industry,” President and CEO Philip Seng said.
“It will be especially difficult for the gyudon beef bowl restaurants that rely heavily on Choice U.S. short plate as a primary ingredient,” Seng added. “This sector endured a tremendous setback when U.S. beef was absent from the Japanese market due to BSE, and was finally enjoying robust growth due to greater availability of U.S. beef and strong consumer demand. USMEF will work with its partners in Japan to mitigate the impact of the safeguard as much as possible. We will also continue to pursue all opportunities to address the safeguard situation by encouraging the U.S. and Japanese governments to reach a mutually beneficial resolution to this issue.” ❖