The Empire Strikes Back: Japan Jacks Up US Beef Import Tariffs To 50%

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership angered the Japanese, provoking fears of a bruising trade showdown between the world’s largest and third-largest economies. On Friday, the Japanese instituted a new policy that will do little to assuage those concerns.

After Japan signed a sweeping trade agreement with the European Union, a move that pundits warned would weaken the US’s position as a dominant player in the global economy, the country has taken another dramatic step clearly aimed at retaliating against the US: Japan said it would impose a temporary 50% tariff on frozen beef from the US and several other countries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Japan’s decision to crack down on frozen beef imports was mandated by a 1994 global trade deal that would’ve been scrapped under the TPP. US trade groups are already warning about how the decision will negatively impact beef prices stateside.

“The U.S. Meat Export Federation said Japan’s move would have negative implications for both U.S. beef producers and Japanese restaurant chains that rely on frozen American beef. The group “will work with its partners in Japan to mitigate the impact” of the move as much as possible, said Chief Executive Philip Seng.

Under Japanese law, an additional tariff known as a safeguard is triggered when frozen-beef imports from all countries and frozen-beef imports from countries lacking free-trade deals with Japan - or “non-EPA countries” because they lack an economic partnership agreement with Japan - both increase by more than 17% from the same period a year earlier. The import volumes are reviewed each quarter.

US government officials couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.”

According to Japan’s Ministry of Finance, Japan imported 89,253 tons of frozen beef during the second quarter, with 37,823 tons coming from non-EPA countries. Both surpassed the “safeguard volume” initiated by the 1994 trade agreement. In Japan, frozen beef is widely used at restaurants to make hamburger patties and bowls of beef over rice, a popular fast-food item, according to WSJ. The safeguard duty affects around 12% of total beef supply in Japan, said Finance Ministry tariff official Koyu Izumi.

In recent months, frozen beef imports have been rising as merchants have sought to lock in prices before China resumes US beef imports as a part of a trade deal. China cracked down on US beef imports 14 years ago during a mad-cow diseases scare. But as beef grows in popularity among Chinese consumers, while memories of the scare have mostly faded, in the world’s second-largest economy are excited about the return of US beef to store shelves.

"American steak is delicious," said one user on China's Twitter-like Weibo service. "It doesn't have the mutton smell of domestic beef,” according to Fortune Magazine.
Japan also temporarily blocked US beef imports in 2003 after the mad-cow scare, but it resumed imports in late 2005, halted them again shortly afterward, then fully restarted them in mid-2006. The US exported $1.5 billion of beef to Japan last year, according to data from the US Meat Export Federation cited by Reuters.

Furthermore, while Trump's protectionist rhetoric has helped escalate tensions between the US and its partners, the US trade situation is improving. According to the latest reading on the US trade balance, released earlier this month, the US trader deficit shrunk in May. The trade deficit decreased in May 2017 from an unrevised $47.6 billion in April (revised). The most notable declines were seen in China and the European, where deficits declined by $2.6BN and $2.0BN respectively.

Several rival countries do have economic agreements with Japan that has exempted their beef imports from the restrictions, potentially granting them an opening to supplant US suppliers and increase their market share. These countries include as Australia, Mexico and Chile, according to Reuters. The wire service reported that Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso is calling foreign leaders of the affected countries to explain the increase in tariffs. But seeing as much of the US beef industry is centered on midwestern states like Nebraska that sided with Trump during the election.

We suspect Trump won’t let this go that easily.


Looney Rick Cerone Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:24 Permalink

  ... Japan slaps a 50% tariff on frozen beef from the US, as a response to the recent surge in imports. And that, Boys and Girls, is how it’s done! The dickheads in Congress spent six long months with the “Border Adjustment Tax” just to club it to death like a baby-seal. No one in Congress wants to do anything about Taxes. Now, with the BAT out of the way, they will find another “item” to obsess about, then another one. The Tax Reform, just like the BananaCare Repeal, ain’t gonna happen! A “skinny” version of it might get to the floor for a vote, but at the very last moment it’s gonna get killed by a Trump-hating traitorous faggot like McCain. Looney

In reply to by Rick Cerone

toady Giant Meteor Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:54 Permalink

I guess I'm just an idiot, but I can never figure out how these are bad things. Less beef for the nips? Fine, more for the us markets... might even bring prices down a bit if it causes a glut.The only down side, if you can call it that, is the middle men and politicians who arrange these things don't get as big a cut.It's win-win! 

In reply to by Giant Meteor

Giant Meteor toady Fri, 07/28/2017 - 21:52 Permalink

Well you could very well be correct. Giant Meteor being more a "big picture" guy. I take the headlines in total, run them through the tetonic shift oscillator device, run calcs on timeline and probabilities , and can only say that there is a great disturbance in the force, which should result in all out calamity in the not so distant future ..In short, taken in toto, on the whole so to speak .. the conclusion is inescapable.Well, my prediction has been October, long before that became fashionable as it is of late, but no matter, rest assured the good ship lollipop is fixing to have her Titanic moment ..Good to see you well by the way ;)

In reply to by toady

Giant Meteor toady Fri, 07/28/2017 - 23:32 Permalink

Indeed, it could be taken as a negative. And let me  simply say I am generally not in favor of it at all. Not to mention that I do believe, the world will be just fine. Metaphorically speaking, a Giant Meteor has no passion, nor remorse, no judgment, fear, nor favor, Simply a timeless and quiet observer of things, strictly speaking, especially in the affairs of men.It has been my observation that when a mans time is up, it's up. I am however fascinated, as an observer, with mankinds particular bent upon his own self destruction. Of course the Greeks famously recorded many similar observations in assorted mythology and writings, as have many others, in their cautionary tales .. and whichever, as the case may be, have been left forever unheeded, if not entirely forgotten ..All of this, these goings on, these affairs of men, are folly. It has always been thus ..Still, it does at times make for lively and spirited discussions, no ? 

In reply to by toady

sinbad2 takeaction Fri, 07/28/2017 - 21:12 Permalink

"and we now say Fuck off with the North Korea thing...Defend yourself."That would be good, everybody in the region would be most happy if the US fucked off.The only reason there is any aggression in the region is the USA.North Korea is exactly the same as Russia, Syria Iraq etc etc, the US creates tensions deliberately and then tells people it is there to protect them.The whole world, apart from a few dictators wants the US to fuck off.America loves war, the rest of the world is sane, and would rather live in peace.

In reply to by takeaction

venturen sinbad2 Sat, 07/29/2017 - 09:27 Permalink

would they?? Japan is happy with military China? South Korea think North and China are great? When any disaster happens....who is the first to show up? Is the USA perfect...NOIs the USA over committed....YES But when things get bad...the USA ends up bailing out EVERYONE ELSE....for realtively modest requests....In the not so long ago history...the USA would own the entire world with the power they have...we won WWII....and could have taken what we wanted

In reply to by sinbad2

MoreFreedom takeaction Sat, 07/29/2017 - 00:52 Permalink

"We are now putting a 100% TARIFF on ALL Japanese imports...and we now say Fuck off with the North Korea thing...Defend yourself...have fun....we are bringing our troops home.Signed  The Donald."I sure don't want to see taxes on imports, it does nothing but tax US consumers and US manufacturers who happen to use most of the imports to the US as inputs to the products they sell globally (making their products less competitive globally, and there go the jobs).  The Border Adjustment Tax was simply an establishment setup of Trump to tank the economy and get rid of him in 2020.   I think Trump helped kill it, and much of his pre-eleciton rhetoric was playing off xenophobia and saying our problems are the result of foreigners instead of our government.  Other than killing TPP which was at most a minor lost opportunity, Trump has been free trade.  And he needs to be to get re-elected.

In reply to by takeaction

Herodotus Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:19 Permalink

The US should match this by putting a 50% tariff on Japanese cars and light trucks imported into the US as well as new car and light truck components destined for assembly to Japanese cars built in the in the United States.

Yen Cross Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:25 Permalink

   So McShit sawdust burger will cost $10k in Japan after Yen crashes and the Norks nuke Tokyo.  I wouldn't want to be a ' Three-eyed Dogfish' right now.

Uranium Mountain Fri, 07/28/2017 - 20:24 Permalink

It's cool.  We can put a 50% tariff tax on their radioactive rice they're importing to the United States and sell our healthy cattle to India. Wait a minute,  India doesn't eat cattle. Damn. I guess I wouldn't make a good Secretary of Commerce.

keep the basta… chosen (not verified) Sat, 07/29/2017 - 05:39 Permalink

excellelent idea. increase tarriff. protect the US home made cars.The japanese have superb quality controls and very well made cars.  I have 2 subaru.. an outback  with perfect leather interior and excellent drive, a liberty with leather  and dual exhausters that goes like the clappers, both have frameless glass doors and they have remained superb after 14 years. Never a problem.

In reply to by chosen (not verified)