Japan’s planned tariff increase on U.S. frozen beef imports is not sitting well with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and cattle industry leaders. The government of Japan has announced that rising imports of frozen beef in the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year (April-June) have triggered a safeguard, resulting in an automatic increase to Japan’s tariff rate under the WTO on imports of frozen beef from the United States. The increase, from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, will begin August 1, 2017 and last through March 31, 2018.
The tariff would affect only exporters from countries, including the United States, which do not have free trade agreements with Japan currently in force.
“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,” Perdue said. “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.”
Japan was the top export market for U.S. beef, valued at $1.5 billion in 2016. According to data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, first quarter U.S. beef sales to Japan increased 42 percent over 2016. In addition to the United States, the 50 percent safeguard tariff also applies to imports from Canada, New Zealand, and other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan.
“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. Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef in both volume and value, and anything that restricts our sales to Japan will have a negative impact on America’s ranching families and our Japanese consumers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Craig Uden. “NCBA opposes artificial barriers like these because they unfairly distort the market and punish both producers and consumers. Nobody wins in this situation. Our producers lose access, and beef becomes a lot more expensive for Japanese consumers. 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.”