Without US, TPP beef exporters enjoy trade deal boost in Japan

TOKYO, Feb. 8 ― Japan’s beef imports soared 60 percent in January, one month after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., known as TPP-11, began, illustrating meat exporters enjoy the landmark trade deal in the Japanese market.

According to the finance ministry, beef imports amounted to 32,885 metric tons in January, compared with 11,733 metric tons in the same month a year earlier. A sharp increase came from Canada and New Zealand.

The January figure was up 55 percent from 21, 152 metric tons in the previous month, just before the TPP-11 came into effect on Dec. 30, 2018.

Under the TPP-11, one immediate effect was to slash Japanese tariffs on chilled beef imports from 38.5 percent to an initial rate of 27.5 percent. That gives exporters from four countries, namely Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand, a good advantage over US producers in the Japanese market.

The Japanese tariffs on beef will eventually fall to 9 percent in the TPP-11, a shift that is expected that Japanese consumers may turn to more meat in a historically fish-eating country.

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, suggesting the landmark trade treaty would have knock-on effects for Japanese farming business.

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