TOKYO, March 30 — Japan was set to lift its safeguard measure on frozen beef imports from April 1, making the U.S. more competitive with other meat suppliers such as Australia.
The agriculture ministry announced March 29 that Tokyo was to reduce the frozen beef tariff rate from 50 percent to 38.5 percent in the fiscal year starting April 1.
In August, rising imports of frozen beef triggered the safeguard measure for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year through March 31.
Yet, Japan has retained its safeguard mechanism in the event of a sharp rise in beef imports to exporting countries that do not currently have free trade agreements with Japan in force.
It mainly affects 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.
The safeguard mechanism is part of a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.
In the WTO system, Japan has the right to invoke safeguards 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.