Japan Imposes 50 Percent Tariff on US Beef

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Japan says it plans to raise tariffs on imports of frozen beef from the United States and other countries from next month.

Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso said that he is ready to discuss the emergency measure at an economic dialogue with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence scheduled later this year.

"I am concerned that an increase in Japan's tariff on frozen beef imports will impede USA beef sales and is likely to increase the United States' overall trade deficit with Japan", Perdue said in a statement.

The surge is mainly due to a recovery in USA beef production and a drop in price following the end of a drought in the United States, according to a farm ministry official. So Australia, the biggest rival to US beef exporters with a more favorable tariff rate of 27.5% for frozen beef, will not face the same jump in tariff rates thanks to a free trade agreement reached with Tokyo as part of the TPP talks.

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From April to June of this year alone, Japan imported almost 100,000 tons of beef; around 41,000 tons of that beef came from non-EPA countries like America.

Farm minister Yuji Yamamoto told reporters that the effect of the measures on consumers should be "limited" as frozen beef targeted by the measure accounts for 20% of the Japan's total beef imports.

This type of tariff is known as a safeguard duty: When tariffs on frozen beef in non-EPA countries (again, those who don't have free-trade agreements with Japan) increase by more than 17 percent over a period of a year, Japan implements a tariff increase of their own. "This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products".

"The usual tariff rate for frozen beef imports is 38.5 per cent".

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US farmers had been hoping for wider access to Japan's lucrative market through a Pacific Rim trade initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The framework was to be scrapped under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed 12-nation trade deal that included the USA and Japan, but Mr. Trump pulled the US out of the TPP before it went into effect.

For the period January-May this year, total US beef exports to Japan were valued at $731 million, up 32% from the same period in 2016, the same data showed.

Any new beef exports to Japan from Mexico, however, would not occur until at least September. Implenting the tariff is supposed to protect domestic beef producers.

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

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