US beef imports to Japan rise 22% year-on-year in August

TOKYO, Sept. 29 — Overall beef imports from the United States rose 22% in August from a year earlier, despite Tokyo’s introduction of special safeguard (SSG) measures on frozen imports, data from the finance ministry has showed.

U.S. beef imports amounted to 18,038 metric tons, the ministry said on Sept. 28.

But U.S. frozen beef imports were down 26% to 4,317 metric tons in August compared with the same month a year earlier.

Japan invoked the SSG on Aug. 1 to restrict frozen beef imports temporarily by raising the tariff from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, as the imports rose more than 17% year-on-year in the April-June quarter.

Meanwhile, U.S. chilled beef imports jumped 54% to 13,721 metric tons, as trading companies looked for alternatives, offsetting a 26% decline of frozen beef imports.

The U.S. and Australia account for nearly 90 percent of Japan’s frozen beef imports, but the measures affect 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.

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