Lisovskaya / Getty Images

The temporary measure affects frozen beef product.

Elisabeth Sherman
July 28, 2017

Japan announced today that some frozen beef imported to the country from the U.S will now be subject to a temporary 50 percent tariff. According the Wall Street Journal, this is the first time that such a tariff has been instituted on U.S. beef in 14 years.

The tariff—which will increase the current 38 percent tariff by 50 percent—will be in effect from August 1 until the end of March of next year, and applies to countries that don’t have an economic partnership agreement with Japan—otherwise known as non-EPA countries—which includes the U.S. as well as Canada and New Zealand. Refrigerated and fresh beef are not subject to the tariff. The tariff will affect about 12 percent of Japan’s total beef supply.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation responded to Japan’s announcement by suggesting that the tariff would strain trade relations between the two countries. The federation thinks that the tariff will make it more difficult for Japanese chains that rely on American beef to supply their restaurants, and harm beef producers in America, though those negative effects have yet to be felt. Additionally, back in April, President Trump said that China and Japan were both contributing to the United States' trade deficit.

This type of tariff is known as a safeguard duty: When tariffs on frozen beef in non-EPA countries (again, those who don’t have free-trade agreements with Japan) increase by more than 17 percent over a period of a year, Japan implements a tariff increase of their own. Implenting the tariff is supposed to protect domestic beef producers. 

From April to June of this year alone, Japan imported nearly 100,000 tons of beef; around 41,000 tons of that beef came from non-EPA countries like America. In 2016 U.S. sales of beef to Japan were worth $418 million dollars. According to CNBC, they’re already expected to be valued at more than $730 million this year.