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U.S. beef tariffs rise as Japan’s safeguard triggers

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Tariffs increased from 25.8% to 38.5% for 30 days beginning March 18 and ending April 16.

U.S. beef exports to Japan from April 1, 2020 to March 10, 2021 reached 242,229 metric tons (MT), exceeding the safeguard trigger level of 242,000 MT established for the second year of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA). As a result, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said Japan will temporarily increase tariffs on U.S. beef from the current 25.8% to 38.5% for 30 days beginning March 18 and ending April 16.

Under USJTA, which entered into force on January 1, 2020, Japan immediately lowered tariffs on U.S. beef from the most-favored-nation rate of 38.5% to 26.6%. Tariffs were reduced further to 25.8% on April 1, 2020 and will eventually phase to 9% by 2033.

FAS noted that the next round of tariff cuts was scheduled to occur on April 1, 2021; however, due to the safeguard, this will be delayed until April 17 when tariffs are reduced to 25%.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) told Feedstuffs that triggering of the beef safeguard is not unexpected. In fact, based on a 15-year outlook, USMEF projects that without an increase to the safeguard threshold, Japan’s imports of U.S. beef are likely to trigger the annual safeguard every year.

“The Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement includes a provision stating that if the safeguard is ever triggered, Japan agrees to consult to adjust the applicable safeguard trigger level,” the organization said. “USMEF encourages the two governments to engage in such consultations and make appropriate adjustments to the safeguard threshold. This will help U.S. beef remain on a level tariff playing field in Japan, subject to the same rates as competitors’ products, and create a more reasonable and predictable pricing environment for Japanese importers and consumers.”

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