Beef Safeguard an Unjustifiable Burden For Japanese Consumers

July 29, 2003

The United States is strongly disappointed that Japan has chosen to implement a safeguard action which will increase its import tax on chilled beef to 50%. Since September of last year, the United States has raised its serious concerns about this issue with senior Japanese officials on numerous occasions. Most recently it was raised during Agriculture Minister Kamei's visit to Washington earlier this month.

Safeguards are designed to provide protection from sudden surges in imports. In this instance, there is no justification for a safeguard action. Japanese beef imports have merely returned to normal levels, after the detection of BSE in Japan caused an abnormal decline in imports last year.

Japanese businesses strongly oppose these safeguard measures. Over the past year, the price of medium quality Japanese beef, which is most comparable to imported beef, has increased by 75%. An increase in the tariff, on top of these higher prices, will place an unnecessary burden on Japanese consumers and businesses.

We therefore urge the Japanese Government to waive the safeguard at the earliest possible date. The United States will be formally requesting the Ministry of Finance to waive the Safeguard, pursuant to Article 12 of the Tariff Act, so as to bring the tariff back to its pre-safeguard level of 38.5%. Japanfs other beef suppliers, Australia and New Zealand will be joining the United States in this request to reconsider the safeguard.