According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), U.S. beef exports to Japan continue to reflect the tariff rate gap between U.S. beef and its competitors. September exports were 14% below last year in both volume and value. For the first three quarters of the year, exports to Japan were 4% below last year’s pace in volume and 5% lower in value. The decline was steeper for beef muscle cuts, which were down 10% in volume, valued at $1.22 billion. USMEF indicated beef variety meat exports to Japan, mainly tongues and skirts, have been a bright spot in 2019, increasing 26% in volume and 15% in value, at $290.8 million. While these items also face higher tariffs compared to competitors’ products, the rate is 12.8% versus 38.5% for U.S. muscle cuts.
“Japan is still delivering excellent value for U.S. beef producers, but tariff relief cannot come soon enough,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “With a level playing field, the U.S. beef industry will move a wider range of products to our loyal customers in Japan and will definitely capitalize on emerging growth opportunities.”
The U.S. and Japan signed a bilateral agreement last month that will make U.S. beef more competitive with beef going into Japan from Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. Set to go into effect January 1, 2020, the trade deal will reduce tariffs on fresh, chilled and frozen beef from the current 38.5% to 9% over 15 years.