TOKYO, Feb. 28 ― Japan’s total beef imports jumped 42 percent in January, one month after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., also 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 50,574 metric tons in January, compared with 35,631 metric tons in the same month a year earlier. The January figure was the highest month in the past 10 years.
“It is unusual to break the 50,000 ton of barrier in January, a month that is not particularly the period for strong demand of beef in Japan,” said an official from a Tokyo-based trading company.
Beef imports from the TPP countries, namely Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada, rose 56% to 32,953 metric tons in January, from a year earlier. A sharp increase came from Canada and New Zealand, both of which didn’t have a trade deal with Tokyo before the TPP-11.
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 the four countries 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.