National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester urged the Trump Administration to move quickly to tear down trade barriers for U.S. beef in Japan. Speaking at a public hearing on the potential economic impact of a U.S.-Japan bilateral trade agreement, Kester noted that reducing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers would benefit Japanese consumers and U.S. cattle producers. Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef, accounting for nearly $2 billion in sales in 2017. However, U.S. beef exports face tariffs as high as 50 percent under some circumstances.
“NCBA strongly supports prioritizing and expediting negotiations for a U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement,” Kester said in his comments. “The U.S. beef industry is at risk of losing significant market share in Japan unless immediate action is taken to level the playing field.”
A number of key U.S. competitors have negotiated agreements that provide their producers with preferential access to the Japanese market. For example, under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Australian beef exporters will enjoy a tariff reduction of 27.5 percent in the first year of the agreement for fresh and frozen products. In most cases, the countries who are part of CPTPP will see their tariff rates for beef exports decline to 9 percent over the next 15 years. In addition to CPTPP, Japan is moving ahead with a trade agreement that will give European Union beef producers similar terms to those negotiated in CPTPP.
“NCBA supported the negotiated compromise under Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it reduced the massive tariff applied to U.S. beef, diminished the likelihood of triggering snap back tariffs, and established strong, objective, and predictable sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other rules-based trade standards,” Kester added. “We expect nothing less under a U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement.”