Aso announces emergency tariffs of 50% on imported frozen beef from Aug

But Japanese media has already described the outcome as ‘inevitable’ quoting sources within Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries

Cattle futures slid after Japan said it was temporarily hiking tariffs on frozen beef imports from the U.S.

Finance Minister Taro Aso announced the move Friday, saying he was prepared to explain the decision to the US side.

Perdue was referring to a tariff increase to 50 per cent from 38.5 per cent starting in August on frozen beef imports from countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan, a measure Japanese officials said is in response to a recent surge in imports.

Japan has become the largest worldwide destination for USA beef, accounting for around a quarter of exports.

Just a year ago USA exports of beef and beef products to Japan totaled $1.5 billion, making it the United States' top market.

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U.S. Meat Export Federation President Philip Seng reportedly said that the tariff hike "will not only have negative implications for U.S. beef producers, but will also have a significant impact on the Japanese food-service industry".

Industry players were concerned that the Japanese tariffs would put US producers at a disadvantage to Australian rivals, who were not subject to a tariff hike due to a trade agreement between the two countries.

The tariff hike will be especially hard on gyudon beef bowl restaurants that rely heavily on US frozen beef cuts as a primary ingredient, he said.

Japan was the top export market for USA beef, valued at $1.5 billion in 2016.

Tyson Foods Inc, the largest meat processor in the United States, said on Friday it supported US government efforts to address the issue with Japan. In 2016 US sales of beef to Japan were worth $418 million dollars.

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Japan has also increased its imports in anticipation that USA beef prices will soar following the resumption of US beef exports to China, the official said.

No safeguard or increase will be triggered for chilled beef imports as the volumes did not exceed the required level.

From April to June of this year alone, Japan imported almost 100,000 tons of beef; around 41,000 tons of that beef came from non-EPA countries like America.

USMEF explained that the snapback duty of 50% will apply to frozen imports from suppliers that do not have an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan, which are mainly the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

The tariff hike is a "safeguard" mechanism to protect domestic farmers, Japan's ministry said.

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