June 3, 2005


Rise in Australian beef exports to Japan could raise tariffs



Australia's ambitious plans to increase beef sales in Japan could backfire instead, with Tokyo being forced to increase tariffs.


After Japan banned US beef due to the mad-cow disease scare, Australia has moved aggressively to fill that void. But Japan will automatically raise tariffs on chilled beef imports from all countries from the current 38.5 percent to 50 percent from August, if imports for the three months to June show year-on-year growth larger than 17 percent.


Current figures point to a great possibility of that happening. An Agriculture Ministry official explained that the automatic rise in beef tariffs is obligatory under an agreement in the Uruguay round of global free trade talks.


The average retail price of chilled import beef was 363 yen, or A$4.45 per 100 grams in the week to May 27, up about five percent from the time of the ban on US imports.


With intensifying pressure from the US, Japan seems likely to lift the ban on US beef in mind-2005 or later.

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