American Beef Shipments to Japan Bypass Tariff Roadblock

Japan Beef
Japan Beef
(MGN Image)

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. and Japanese officials may avoid trading barbs over beef at the U.S.-Japan economic dialogue on Oct. 16, despite Donald Trump’s preoccupation with trade deficits and a recently raised tariff in Japan.

That’s because U.S. beef sales to Japan actually rose by more than 20 percent in August from a year earlier, even after Japan raised the tariff on frozen beef imports from some countries to 50 percent from 38.5 percent on Aug. 1. A surge in Japan’s imports of chilled and fresh beef from the U.S. more than offset a decline in frozen beef imports.

The higher tariff, triggered by a surge in Japan’s overall imports of frozen beef, has threatened to become an irritant in U.S.-Japan relations. After it was announced, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asked the Japanese government to address U.S. concerns about its trade deficit with Japan. And Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the group was "very disappointed," highlighting an "urgent need" for a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.

The higher tariff, in effect until the end of March, applies to frozen beef from countries that don’t have economic partnership agreements with Japan, such as the U.S., but not rival exporter Australia, which does.

Yet with its total imports of U.S. beef rising, Japan can argue that beef doesn’t warrant extra scrutiny when officials meet in Washington, and can deflect pressure from U.S. industry organizations like Uden’s for a bilateral agreement.

Less friction over beef would be welcome news for beef-bowl restaurant Yoshinoya. More than 90 percent of the beef it uses comes from the U.S., according the company. The chain says it’s not considering any changes in prices or serving sizes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Connor Cislo in Tokyo at, Maiko Takahashi in Tokyo at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brett Miller at, Henry Hoenig

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.


Latest News

NAHMS To Conduct Feedlot Study

USDA's Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is conducting a national study focusing on cattle health and management in U.S. feedlots with at least 50 head.

NCBA Opposes Cattle Markets Transparency Act In Current Form

The Cattle Transparency Act of 2021 was introduced in the Senate to mandate weekly minimum cash cattle trades. NCBA policy supports a voluntary approach to increase negotiated trades to regionally sufficient levels.

Peel: Volatile Feeder Auction Volumes in Oklahoma

Feeder cattle markets have bounced back from the brutal February storm just in time for the termination of winter grazing of dual-purpose wheat.

As Drought Intensifies, Farm Groups Fear Disaster Assistance Will Be a Tough Sell

The western half of the country continues to see little moisture, and after a year of record government payments to agriculture, farm groups fear financial assistance this year will be tough to get passed in Washington.

Cash Fed Cattle 5 Weeks Steady

The first week of March saw warm temperatures across most of the Central Plains, but cash cattle prices were frozen in neutral with feeders unable to wrangle additional market leverage.

Vaccine Available To Kansas Meatpacking Workers

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Thursday that every meatpacking plant worker in Kansas who wants a COVID-19 vaccination can get one by the end of next week.