Japan is Australia's largest beef export market in volume and value terms. It is also one of valuable markets for Australian lamb and mutton exports.
Australian beef exports to Japan
Despite contracting 10% year-on-year, to 308,537 tonnes swt, Japan easily remained Australia’s largest beef export market in 2012, taking 32% of all beef exported. The weak Japanese economy, faltering consumer demand, high A$ and increased competition from the US all combined to affect Australia’s trade throughout 2012.
Australian beef was estimated to have occupied 36% of the total beef market in Japan in 2012, down three percentage points from 2011.
In 2013, the Japanese government made a much anticipated announcement that Japan now allows imports of US beef from cattle less than 31 months of age from 1 February 2013, revising from the previous 21 months.
Imports of US beef into Japan during 2012 totalled 131,921 tonnes swt (up 9% from 2011), with its share in the imported beef market reaching 26% (3% points higher than the previous year).
Japan’s beef consumption in 2012 totalled 877,277 tonnes swt (boneless equivalent), up 2% from the previous year.
The current tariff on beef is 38.5% (with the Safeguard snapback provision to the 50% bound rate). Separate tariff rates are applicable to offal and processed beef. Imports of chilled and frozen beef during April to December 2012 were lower than the trigger levels set for the Japanese financial year 2012, and hence, the safeguard was not triggered.
(The safeguard is a mechanism agreed upon with Japan in the Uruguay Round of World Trade Organization negotiations in 1994. It gives Japan the option to increase the beef tariff from 38.5% to 50%, for the remainder of the Japanese fiscal year, once the trigger level is exceeded. The Japanese fiscal year (JFY) runs from April to March, with trigger levels calculated to be 17% higher than imports for the same period in the previous year, calculated on a cumulative quarterly basis and separately for chilled and frozen beef. Trigger levels and imports are calculated on a customs cleared basis)
Read the Japan Red Meat Market Report for more information on the Japan beef market
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