US ambassador urges Japan to review frozen beef safeguard

TOKYO, Sept. 13 — A top U.S. official has urged Japan to review the special safeguard (SSG) measure that Tokyo imposed on frozen beef imports in August.

“I strongly raised the issue,” U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty told reporters in Tokyo after meeting Japanese Agriculture Minister Ken Saito on Sept. 12.

The U.S. and Australia account for nearly 90 percent of Japan’s frozen beef imports, but the measure affects only the U.S. because it doesn’t have a free trade agreement with Japan.

U.S. officials and meat exporters have criticized the trade remedy as an artificial barrier, and the issue is likely to be taken up at a second round of the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue in October in Washington.

Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, Japan has the right to invoke the SSG to restrict frozen beef imports temporarily by raising the tariff from 38.5 percent to 50 percent when the imports rise more than 17% year-on-year in any given quarter.

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