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EXCLUSIVE: Japan asking U.S. to keep beef tariff low

Tokyo, April 4 (Jiji Press)–Japan is asking the United States to continue importing Japanese beef at a low tariff even if imports exceeds its low-tariff quota, Jiji Press learned Monday.


The move comes amid worries that an influx of beef from Brazil may cause the U.S. quota for beef imports from some countries including Japan and Brazil to be filled up this month.


Under the current system, a high tariff will be levied if the full quota is reached, impacting Japanese exports of highly popular “wagyu” and other beef to the United States.


The low-tariff quota, with a tariff rate of 4.4 cents per kilogram, is currently set at 65,005 tons.


Japanese government officials visited the United States at the end of last month to urge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and others to maintain low-tariff imports.


But it is unclear whether the U.S. government will accept Japan’s request, as it wants to protect its farmers, especially ahead of the midterm elections in November.


The value of Japanese beef exports to the United States stood at 10.2 billion yen in 2021. The figure tripled from 2019, prior to the start of the current quota system in 2020.


Sliced wagyu beef for household consumption is especially popular thanks to a boom in Japanese cuisine.


Meanwhile, large amounts of Brazilian beef are flowing into the United States after China suspended beef imports from the South American country last year due to an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.


Ninety-six pct of the low-tariff quota for 2022 has already been filled in the first three months. Beef imports exceeding the quota face a tariff of 26.4 pct.


“Exports of wagyu will grind to a halt” unless the quota system is reviewed, said a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who specializes in agriculture policy.

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