Japan likely to hike tariffs on frozen beef imports from U.S. – Media

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  • As Egypt expects gas output to hit 6.2 bln cf per day by end-2017/18

Japan is likely to raise tariffs on frozen beef imports from the U, S. and some other countries to protect domestic producers against imports, according to local media.

According to the media, tariffs on frozen beef would jump to 50 per cent from the current 38.5 per cent between Aug. 1 and the end of March 2018 if a “safeguard” mechanism designed to protect domestic farmers is triggered by the import data.

An increase would be the first time in 14 years the mechanism has been tripped, and would come as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to expand the American exports to Japan.

If detailed Ministry of Finance trade data due to be out by 9:30 a.m. on Friday confirms a surge in beef imports high enough to trigger the increase, the ministry would probably make an official announcement on Monday.

“A tariff increase is automatic if quarterly beef imports from all nations and countries that do not have economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with Japan both rise more than 17 per cent from a year earlier.

“We have not been given any projected figures, and I won’t know until the data is out.

“Nations that have EPAs with Japan, such as Australia, Mexico and Chile, will be excluded from any hike in tariffs,” an official of Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

A Tokyo-based official with the U.S. Meat Export Federation said it cannot comment now, added that the federation is set to issue a statement if Japan makes an official announcement.

“Frozen beef imports from the U.S. have risen this year as another major supplier, Australia, was hit by drought,’’ the Yomiuri daily newspaper said.

Still, the beef import figures for June would have to show a significant leap to trigger the tariff increase.

In April to May, the first two months of the current fiscal year, frozen beef imports from all nations rose 7.6 per cent to 62,436 tonnes, with U.S. shipments rising 14.8 per cent from a year ago to 20,530 tonnes, the data showed.

Japan’s frozen beef imports in the year ended March 31, 2017, rose 2.2 per cent to 286,000 tonnes, and included 94,300 tonnes from the U.S., farm ministry data showed.

Frozen beef imports made up more than half of the total beef imports in the last business year.

In the meantime, Egypt expects its natural gas production to rise to 6.2 billion cubic feet per day by the end of the 2017/2018 fiscal year which began this month, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told media on Thursday.

Egypt currently produces 5.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day.