December 22, 2003


Extension of Emergency Beef and Pork Tariffs in Japan


In a bid to protect local farmers from a surge in foreign meats, a Japanese government panel recently recommended a one-year extension of emergency tariffs to be placed on imported beef and pork.


Japan raised the duties in August after invoking a provision in international trade rules.


The decision drew criticism from trading partners including the United States and Australia, which argued that the so-called safeguards were not justified because meat imports were rebounding from exceptionally low levels following a mad cow scare.


In a report last Thursday to Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, a ministry customs panel recommended a one-year extension of the safeguards, which expire at the end of the fiscal year in March 2004, because Japanese farmers remain under pressure from the rise in imported meat, said a ministry official, Toshinaga Okazawa.


The ministry plans to seek approval from Parliament during a session opening in January, Okazawa said.


Japan bought more than $800 million of American beef last year and accounted for 32% of the total value of U.S. beef exports, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Under the safeguard provisions, Japan raised its tariffs on imported refrigerated beef from 38.5% to 50%.

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