Japan is preparing to raise tariffs on all U.S. beef imports and has threatened a ban if America reopens its borders to Canada.
Japan plans to increase chilled beef tariffs 11.5 percent, from 38.5 percent to 50 percent for one year beginning in August as part of a “safeguard tariff” hike. Frozen beef will likely not be affected.
Because of a recent surge in beef imports, which comes on the heels of a slump in beef consumption in Japan related to an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2001, chilled beef imports are up 47 percent in April and 32 percent in May from a year earlier.
If the import increase exceeds 17 percent from year-earlier levels for the April-June quarter, the safeguard is triggered to protect Japan’s domestic beef industry.
Japan also is concerned about the possibility of another outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Japan is asking for a labeling system to be enacted so that consumers can verify that beef coming into Japan is from the United States and not Canada. Japanese officials say trade would be banned beginning Sept.1 if the United States cannot certify that exports contain no Canadian beef. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. beef.
The beef markets in the United States and Canada are integrated, and before the discovery of BSE, cows were routinely transported across the border.