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Japan hikes tariffs on U.S. beef imports

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Japan has temporarily set higher tariffs on U.S. beef imports.

Joe Schuele with the U.S. Meat Export Federation says U.S. beef exports to Japan have been very strong of late, which set off a safeguard trigger that implements a higher tariff rate for 30 days.

“We knew that as we approached the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year, which is April 1st, that we might be getting close to a safeguard threshold that was in the US-Japan Agreement,” Schuele said. “It was 242,000 metric tons. We knew we were likely to exceed that. Around March 10th, imports topped that threshold.”

“What that means,” he continued, “is that based on the date that safeguard was triggered, U.S. beef is subject to a higher tariff. We go back to a 38.5% tariff for a 30-day period.”

The previous tariff was 25.8% and was actually scheduled to drop to 25% on April 1st. However, with the recent safeguard trigger, that move will not occur until April 17th. Schuele notes one positive takeaway from the tariff hike is this means U.S. beef is in very strong demand in Japan.

“We do think demand has been very resilient especially at the retail level,” Schuele said. “At the supermarket level, demand for U.S. beef and pork has been very strong in Japan. We think demand is strong also for foodservice for the restaurant and hospitality sectors. They just need to get back to a normal level of activity and then we feel like we will be looking at several good years to come in Japan based on consumer demand.”

Schuele adds USMEF encourages the two governments to make appropriate adjustments to the safeguard threshold, which would help U.S. beef remain on a level tariff playing field in Japan.

For more information, visit usmef.org.