July 29, 2004



Japan To Raise Tariffs On Pork Imports From Canada, U.S. And Europe

Japan will hike tariffs on pork products to curb a sharp increase in imports from Canada and other countries, while protecting its domestic producers, the government said Thursday.


Tariff increases averaging 25 per cent will be imposed over the eight-month period beginning August 1 through March 31 next year, Agriculture Ministry official Yuichiro Watanabe said.


The hike was a result of a sharp rise in imports from major exporters including Canada, the United States and the European Union during the April-June quarter. The increase is the fourth since 2001, Watanabe said.


The move is allowed under WTO rules that say Japan can impose emergency tariffs when quarterly imports exceed 19 per cent or more of the average amount imported for the same period during the previous three years.


Japan imported 349,162 tonnes of pork in the April-June quarter. Tariff increases are allowed when imports exceed 283,298 tonnes.


Under Japan's tariff system, base prices are set for pork products. The prices of imports cheaper than that are raised; those with prices over the base price are increased at a rate of 4.3 per cent.


Thursday's announcement means the base price will be raised, lifting the average price of imported pork by much as 134.55 yen per kilogram.


Watanabe said pork imports soared due to rising demands. Consumers had shifted to pork from beef and chicken amid mad cow scares and avian flu outbreaks.


Japan has suspended American beef imports since last December, following the discovery of the first U.S. case of the fatal brain-wasting illness in a cow in Washington state.


Last year, Japan's pork imports totalled 858,363 tonnes, accounting for about 45 per cent of the nation's total pork consumption.


The European Union was the largest exporter to Japan with 298,224 tonnes, followed by the United States with 270,721 tonnes and Canada with 190,051 tonnes.

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