Japan beef tariff to stay

Richard Smith, TokyoThe West Australian
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Japan's tariff on frozen beef will not rise on August 1 as feared, but may still rise in the following seasons.

Imports of beef to Japan are hit with a 38.5 per cent tariff.

Whenever total beef imports up to the end of the current fiscal year exceed a surplus of 17 per cent of volume in the same period a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) automatically raises the tariff to 50 per cent.

This is applied separately to chilled and frozen beef. For example, final figures for the April-June quarter come in late July.

Higher import figures than those in the same quarter the previous year trigger the tariff hike on August 1.

If this doesn't happen, MOF checks figures for April-September at the end of October for November 1 application, and those for April-December at the end of January for February 1 application.

When excessive imports show up, only in the final figures for the entire preceding year, which come out in late April, the higher tariff applies only in May and June of the new fiscal year.

Total frozen beef importsamounted to 72,010 tonnes in April-June 2012 and 77,775 tonnes during the same period this year, a rise of only 8 per cent, MOF figures showed.

The tariff will not rise on August 1, said Takayuki Terano, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' Meat Marketing and Trade Policy Office.

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