With April 1 being the first day of the new Japanese fiscal year, Australian beef entering Japan gains further tariff relief under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. Duty rates declined by one percentage point, so the rates now stand at 30.5 percent for Australian chilled beef and 27.5 percent for frozen. The duty rate is still 38.5 percent for U.S. beef and imports from most other suppliers.
Japan’s imports of chilled/frozen beef totaled 60,282 metric tons (mt) in the first two months of this year, down 12 percent from 2015. Imports from Australia were up 5 percent (35,446 mt), while volume from the United States was down 18 percent (20,334 mt) and imports were also lower from all other main suppliers. Chilled imports from the U.S. gained momentum in February, reaching 5,319 mt. This was a 34 percent increase from last year’s low volume when trade was slowed by West Coast port delays. Australia’s export data show shipments to Japan were down 26 percent (29,489 mt) in January-February, and this slowdown should be reflected in Japan’s import data in coming months. So although Australia is benefitting from lower duty rates, the decline in Australian beef production and corresponding higher prices are expected to slow its exports to Japan this year.