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Japan Beef Tariffs Shake Cattle Futures

Japan Beef Tariffs Shake Cattle Futures

The Japanese government said on Friday it will impose emergency tariffs from August on frozen beef from the United States and some other regions.

The Japanese government said the move was an emergency measure meant to address the recent surge in shipments into the country.

Japan is raising tariffs on the imports to 50% until March 2018 from the current 38.5%. According to data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, first quarter U.S. beef sales to Japan increased 42 percent over 2016.

Japan has become the largest global destination for US beef, accounting for around a quarter of exports.

Beef imports have risen quickly as prices fell as the USA livestock sector recovered from drought.

The US is the second-largest supplier of frozen beef to Japan after Australia, however, the free trade agreement between Japan and Australia exempts Australian beef from the emergency measure.

Following the Japanese government's announcement, U.S. Meat Export Federation President Philip Seng rapped the decision, saying in a statement, "the safeguard will not only have negative implications for U.S. beef producers, but will also have a significant impact on the Japanese food service industry".

U.S. sales of frozen beef cuts to Japan a year ago were worth $418 million, making up around 18% of total U.S. frozen beef sales, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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"It will be especially hard for the gyudon beef bowl restaurants", he said, referring to a popular Japanese beef-on-rice dish.

The move, the first such step in 14 years involving beef, comes after President Donald Trump named Japan as one of the countries contributing to the US trade deficit.

"The usual tariff rate for frozen beef imports is 38.5 per cent".

Australia could still struggle to win market share as its prices remain high because of a drought that has cut cattle numbers, said Nalivka, who added that a weaker US dollar could help offset the tariff increase.

Tyson Foods Inc, the largest meat processor in the United States, said on Friday it supported US government efforts to address the issue with Japan.

In April-June, Japan's first fiscal quarter, frozen beef imports from all nations totalled 89,253 tonnes, up 17.1% from a year ago, and imports from non-EPA nations reached 37,823 tonnes, up almost 25%, government data showed.

"The implications for US beef exports are significant because USA frozen beef now faces an even wider tariff disadvantage compared to Australian beef", USMEF said.

The tariff hike is a "safeguard" mechanism to protect domestic farmers, Japan's ministry said.


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