Canada, Ireland Also Receive Full Access for Beef into Japan

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Overlooked in some of the euphoria of U.S. beef producers gaining full access into the Japanese market was the announcement that Canadian and Irish beef got the same access.

On May 17, Japan lifted maximum age limits on beef originating from the U.S. The announcement came with great elation from beef producers and government officials in the U.S. However, lost in some of the celebration was that Canada and Ireland would both be granted similar unrestricted admission for beef products.

All three countries had beef import requirements removed that included a stipulation that beef could only come from cattle 30 months of age or younger. For Canada and the U.S., the age requirements had been put in place starting in 2003 with the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow originating from Canada that was slaughtered in the U.S. Ireland also had the age requirement because of BSE, but Irish Farmers' Association president Joe Healy says there was no veterinary reason to continue the age restriction

Canada might be the country that has the most to benefit from the move after getting a reduced tariff rate through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The free trade agreement involves 11 countries and since December 30, 2018, imports of Canadian beef to Japan have improved. According to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), during the first quarter of 2019 sales volume climbed 100.2% from the previous time last year reaching. In the first three months of this year 9,826 metric tons of beef was imported from Canada to Japan worth US$51.38 million, an increase in value of 117.4% versus last year.

The move to remove age requirements on beef is getting praise by cattle groups and political leaders in Canada and Ireland.

“The CCA has and will continue to advocate for free and open trade. We were pleased to see the access to Japan attained under CPTPP and are happy to see the market potential grow with new access for cattle (over 30 months of age),” says David Haywood-Farmer, British Columbian rancher and CCA president.

Through the CPTPP, tariffs have dropped from the previous 38.5% rate for Canadian beef to a current level of 27.5% for fresh beef and 26.9% for frozen beef. The tariff rate will continue decreasing and will reach 9% by 2033. U.S. beef is still at a 38.5% tariff rate entering Japan after exiting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, the U.S. does send a lot of beef into Japan – the largest trade market for U.S. beef. In 2018, the U.S. exported more than $2 billion worth of beef to Japan.

Ireland doesn’t have as large of foothold in Japan compared to the U.S. or Canada. During 2018, 840 metric tons of Irish beef worth US$4.06 million made it to Japan. During the first quarter of 2019, Ireland exported 200 tons of beef to Japan.

“This comes at a particularly opportune time shortly before my Trade Mission to Japan, and on top of the recent good news from China in relation to the approval of Irish beef plants. It is a testament to the strong co-operation of Team Ireland and our very productive relations with our Japanese counterparts in progressing market access,” says Michael Creed, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine.

For more on Japan’s beef market read the following stories: