Japan safeguard has no impact on US beef price, says minister

TOKYO, Aug. 30 ─ One month after Japan raised tariffs on frozen beef imports from the United States, Agriculture Minister Ken Saito said it has so far had no adverse impact on the price of US frozen beef.

U.S. meat exporters have criticized the so-called special safeguard (SSG) measure as an “artificial barrier” saying it unfairly distorts the Japanese beef market and punishes both U.S. producers and Japanese consumers.

Japan imposed the SSG on beef imports from Aug. 01 for the first time in 14 years due to a surge in imports of frozen beef in recent months.

It mainly affects the U.S. producers because they are the main suppliers of frozen beef to Japan and the U.S. doesn’t have a free trade agreement with Japan.

Saito explained at a press conference on Aug. 29 that the price of U.S. frozen beef was 804 yen a kg in Aug. 14~18, up 2% from July, but 2% cheaper compared to that on Aug. 7~10.

The U.S. beef price in August rose 50% from the same period a year earlier, but Saito said is against the backdrop that the U.S, beef price last year was much lower than this year and the strong yen had allowed traders to procure more American beef.

“The U.S. frozen beef prices have not reflected the effects of the safeguard,” said Saito. “The safeguard measure is based on the agreement made by the both governments.”

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