Japan to accept more Canadian beef

Japan reopened its market May 17 to Canadian beef from animals of all ages.

The change comes 16 years after Japan closed its borders in 2003 to Canadian beef in the wake of a BSE discovery. It partially reopened to trade in beef from animals younger than 21 months in 2005 and then in 2013 accepted beef from animals younger than 30 months.

Now Japan has widened Canadian trade access.

“We are pleased to see the leadership role that Japan is taking,” said Fawn Jackson, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association senior manager for government and international relations.

Greater beef access to Japan was officially announced May 21 by federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr.

Japan is Canada’s third largest trading partner in agriculture and food products and bought almost $215 million worth of Canadian beef in 2018.

As a partner in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP), as is Canada, Japan increased its beef purchases in the first quarter of 2019 by over 100 percent.

It bought 9,826 tonnes of Canadian beef from January to March worth $68.7 million, which is 117.4 percent more than it bought in the same period last year.

“We expect trade to grow in Japan,” said Jackson, noting Canada has a beef trade advantage over the United States, at least until the U.S. comes to its own deal.

The U.S. faces a 38.5 percent tariff on beef shipped to Japan, while Canada’s tariff was reduced in April to 27.5 percent on fresh beef and 26.9 percent on frozen beef by virtue of its membership in the CPTTP. That rate will be gradually lowered to nine percent over the next 14 years under the terms of the agreement.

“Based on industry estimates, the expanded access announced today has the potential to further increase exports by up to 20 per cent, contributing to the government’s goal of $75 billion in annual global agri-food exports by 2025,” Agriculture Canada said in a May 21 news release.

Exports of all Canadian agricultural and agri-food products to Japan increased five percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, the government said.

Jackson said Canadian beef producers are hopeful that other countries that still have restrictions on Canadian beef will follow Japan’s lead.

“The CCA has and will continue to advocate for free and open trade,” said CCA president David Haywood-Farmer, in a CCA news release about the widened trade access.

” We were pleased to see the access to Japan attained under CPTPP and are happy to see the market potential grow with new access for OTM (over 30 months).

Japan also announced last week that it would accept OTM beef from the U.S. and Ireland.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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