In response to high levels of beef imports, the Japanese government will increase the duties charged on imported beef, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “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,” explained USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.
Beef imports during the first quarter (April 1-June 30) of Japan’s fiscal year, from the United States and other countries covered under Japan’s “safeguard” mechanism, were large enough (by a margin of just 113 metric tons) to trigger an increase in the duty charged on imports of frozen beef. The rate will increase from 38.5% to 50% for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which runs through March 31, 2018.
“It will be especially difficult for the gyudon beef bowl restaurants that rely heavily on Choice U.S. short plate as a primary ingredient. 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,” Seng said.
USMEF will work with its partners in Japan to mitigate the impact of the safeguard as much as possible, Send added. “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.”
Supplemental information on Japan’s imports of U.S. beef and possible implications of the safeguard are available in this brief USMEF fact sheet. Further analysis and charts are also available online.
“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 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, Uden said. “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.”
Japan was the top export market for U.S. beef in 2016, valued at $1.5 billion. According to data compiled by USMEF, first quarter U.S. beef sales to Japan increased 42% over 2016. In addition to the United States, the 50% safeguard tariff also applies to imports from Canada, New Zealand, and other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan.