USMEF President: Japan’s Beef Tariff Hike “Will Have An Impact.”

The United States’ number one beef importer for value and volume is hiking its tariffs on U.S. beef products.

The United States received notice from Japan on Friday that it would hike the tariffs on U.S. frozen beef from 38.5 percent to 50 percent on August 1 through Japan’s fiscal year, which is the end of March 2018. There is a separate safeguard for fresh, chilled beef.

“Initially this is a psychological impact because this actually goes in the opposite direction of what the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has been advocating where he’s been [trying to] revitalize the economy,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “It’s going to retard growth and have an impact on our exports. This will impact year-end sales.”

This comes just days after The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the U.S. beef herd is expected to jump in beef production during the fourth quarter of 2017.

“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,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. agriculture secretary, in a statement. “This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products.”

Seng said the impact could hinder year-end sales.

“This will have an impact,” said Seng. “The impact will be felt probably in the next month or two. It’s not going to be immediate because of the inventory levels.”

Japan is able to implement the action because the country introduced safeguard tariffs in 1994 under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The country can raise tariffs when imports rise more than 17 percent year-on-year in any given quarter to Japan from all countries.

“It’s really unfortunately because [the United States] only exceeded this level we needed by only 113 metric tons, which is a very small amount,” said Seng. “[That number] is less than one percent.”

Seng believed this move by Japan occurred now for a number of factors. First, there were record setting imports coming into Japan for the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year. Second, he believed another reason the U.S. may have seen this hike is because Japan bought U.S. beef at an optimum rate due to Australia’s drought and the uncertainty with the U.S. and China’s beef deal.  

“This puts a ceiling on our level of exports,” said…

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