Japan’s meat imports in 2018 likely surge to record levels

TOKYO, Dec. 30 ― Japanese farmers have faced an influx of cheap meat imports, as the country’s imports of red meat and poultry were set another new record volume in 2018, government data has showed.

And that was even before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., known as TPP-11, entered into force on Dec. 3o, 2018, suggesting the landmark trade pact would have knock-on effects for Japanese farming business, industry officials pointed out.

Japanese meat imports totaled 1.92 million metric tons in the first 11 months through November 2018, which was 1 percent more than the same period a year ago, according to the finance ministry.

The 2017 full-year import figure already broke the 2 million metric ton barrier for the first time since records began in 1988, and the 2018 figure will also likely mark a record high level.

By product, beef imports rose 6% to 560,000 metric tons for January through November from the same period a year earlier.

Australia especially boosted beef shipments to Japan, taking advantage of lower tariffs through its bilateral trade agreement with Tokyo. Australian beef amounted to 290,000 metric tons, up 9 percent from a year ago, while American beef rose 3% to 230,000 metric tons.

Pork imports amounted to 850,000 metric tons in the same period, marking a second straight year of record volumes.

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