January 4, 2022
USMEF commends agency's efforts concerning adjustment of safeguard on US beef entering Japan
The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently commended the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on the agency's consultations with Japan aimed at adjusting the country's safeguard trigger levels for imports of US beef.
In 2021, Japan's imports of US beef exceeded the safeguard threshold (242,000 tonnes) on March 17, approaching the end of the Japanese fiscal year (March 31). This triggered a higher tariff rate of 38.5% (up from 25.8%) on US beef muscle cuts, which was in effect for 30 days.
After this 30-day period passed, the tariff rate for US beef declined to 25%, as provided in the Japan-US Trade Agreement. But for beef suppliers that are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the 25% tariff rate went into effect on April 1.
"This may not sound real disruptive, but in fact, the timing of it is extremely disruptive. March, April is right before one of the busiest consumption times a year — the Golden Week holidays," said USMEF president and chief executive officer Dan Halstrom. "So of course, our concern going forward is if we can't come to an agreement, we run a threat of triggering the safeguard each and every year."
This year, the snapback tariff rate is 30%, while the Fiscal Year 2022 rate under Japan's trade agreements is 24%. Competitors such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico will receive their rate reduction on April 1, but it will likely be delayed for US beef unless the safeguard threshold is amended.
"Japanese importers are well aware that the US runs this risk of triggering a safeguard each year. Whereas our primary competition around the world — Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, etc. — that are CPTPP trading partners, they do not have any risk of triggering a safeguard," said Halstrom.
"The other big competitor out there — Australia — in the last few years has been running a deficit in terms of available production, as they dealt with their drought issues. However, the last two years they've been getting rain. They've been holding cattle. At some point, these cattle are going start coming to market and we will see bigger production levels available out of Australia for Japan. There's a lot of reasons we really need to make progress on the beef safeguard."