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ECONOMY > Agriculture

Japan’s 2019 farm exports fall short of 1 tril. yen target

  • February 7, 2020
  • , Kyodo News , 2:38 p.m.
  • English Press

Japan’s agriculture, fishery and forestry exports in 2019 fell short of the government’s 1 trillion yen ($9.1 billion) goal, the farm ministry said Friday, underscoring the challenges facing the country in its quest to build a larger presence in overseas markets.


Preliminary data showed such exports rose 0.6 percent from the previous year to 912.1 billion yen, a record high for the seventh straight year, though the pace of growth slowed from 12.4 percent in 2018 due to poor scallop and mackerel catches, as well as a South Korean boycott of Japanese products amid a diplomatic spat.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted a boost in agricultural exports as a pillar of his economic growth strategy, looking to capitalize on the rising popularity of Japanese cuisine abroad.


Farm minister Taku Eto told a press conference he takes the failure to hit the 1 trillion yen target “seriously” and that Japan aims to meet the goal in 2020.


Looking at the data in more detail, agricultural exports in 2019 rose 3.8 percent to 587.7 billion yen, while those of fishery products fell 5.2 percent to 287.3 billion yen and forestry items slipped 1.4 percent to 37.1 billion yen.


By item, scallops, a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, dropped 6.3 percent to 44.6 billion yen, while mackerel plummeted 22.8 percent to 20.6 billion yen.


Meanwhile, beef climbed 20.0 percent to 29.6 billion yen, while sake saw a 5.3 percent rise to 23.4 billion yen and apples a 3.7 percent increase to 14.4 billion yen.


By market, Hong Kong was the largest buyer of Japanese agricultural exports despite a 3.7 percent fall amid the prolonged standoff between pro-democracy protesters and authorities in the territory.


Shipments to South Korea plunged 21.0 percent due to the boycott of Japanese products amid the bilateral spat over compensation for wartime labor and trade policy.


But farm exports to China soared 14.9 percent while those to the United States logged a 5.2 percent increase.


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries earmarked 1.2 billion yen in its budget for the fiscal year beginning in April to create a new organization to promote farm exports, as well as 3 billion yen to boost production of the “wagyu” beef.


The measures are designed to help domestic farmers cope with the intensified competition that came with Japan’s signing of a trade deal with the United States that entered into force on Jan. 1, as well as a revised 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and a trade accord with the European Union.


Reflecting the lowering of tariffs on American meat under the trade deal, the volume of beef imports from the United States in January jumped 22.1 percent from a year earlier to 21,428 tons, according to Finance Ministry data released Friday.

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