The volume of imports of beef from the United States into Japan for the fiscal year 2020 has exceeded the benchmark limit of 242,000 metric tons which has prompted the Japanese government to impose an emergency import tariff hike on US beef imports later this week.
Reports, based on government source information, said that beyond that benchmark volume of beef imports form the US, the Japanese government is mandated to impose safeguard measures to protect the local beef industry.
According to a bilateral trade agreement between the US and Japan that came into effect in January 2020, if the Japanese government does implement the emergency measure, the import tariffs on US beef would increase to 38.5 per cent from the current rate of 25.8 per cent for a period of one month.
According to the country’s agriculture minister Kotaro Nogami who was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the increase in prices for fresh, chilled and frozen US beef that will be cause by the hiking of the tariffs will “not likely have a major impact on consumers”. Nogami added that the increase will be of a small and marginal in nature and will be in force only for a short period of 30 days.
While no definitive comment on whether the emergency measure would actually be imposed by the government on US beef was made by Nogami, reports quoting government sources said that the new tariffs would be implemented starting Thursday.
According to data made available by the Japanese Finance Ministry, the cumulative US beef imports into Japan totaled233,112 tons at the end of February for the fiscal year of 2020 which started last April. That volume of imports may well have been surpassed the agreed upon aggregate volume threshold by early March, said the sources.
According to reports quoting information from the government sources, there has been a surge in the import of beef from the United States because of significant drop of the same from Australia which is currently facing a drought.
Under the latest trade agreement between the US and Japan, the two trading partners will need to start consultations within 10 days so that it is possible to adjust the applicable safeguard trigger to a higher level if the safeguard is triggered by Japan.
The last time that Japan had imposed the safeguard tariff against US frozen beef imports was in August 2017.
(Adapted from JapanTimes.com)