Japan to suggest modifications to beef import safeguards in talks with U.S.: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will suggest modifications to its safeguard mechanism on frozen U.S. beef imports that may shorten overview intervals and permit importers to voluntarily decrease import volumes to stop tariffs from mechanically kicking in, two authorities sources mentioned on Thursday.

The proposal will probably be made on the second spherical of the U.S.-Japan financial dialogue in Washington on Oct. 16, however it’s unsure if the U.S. aspect will go alongside, mentioned the 2 sources, who’ve direct information of the matter.

If profitable, the proposal may assist keep off commerce friction with the US, which is renegotiating free commerce agreements with different nations to guard jobs and decrease its commerce deficit.

Below present measures, Japan mechanically imposes greater tariffs if quarterly imports of particular beef merchandise from any nation rise greater than 17 % from the earlier yr.

Japan hiked tariffs from Aug. 1 on imports of frozen beef, widespread in beef bowl dishes, from nations together with the US to 50 % from 38.5 %.

The transfer adopted U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdraw from the long-planned Trans-Pacific Partnership commerce deal earlier this yr.

Japan says the tariff hike, set to be in place till subsequent March, is a “safeguard” mechanism to guard home farmers, but it surely has prompted some concern in Washington.

As an alternative of reviewing import knowledge on a quarterly foundation, Japan will suggest shortening this era to each 10 days, the sources mentioned. This can make it simpler for corporations that import beef to regulate volumes and keep away from triggering tariffs, the sources mentioned.

Nonetheless, the plan is much from sure to work as a result of frozen U.S. beef imports may surge subsequent yr in April after the present tariff enhance expires, one supply mentioned.

“As soon as the safeguard is triggered, there’s a concern that it’s going to repeatedly be triggered sooner or later,” the supply mentioned.

The primary spherical of the U.S.-Japan financial dialogue, which was held in Tokyo in April, ended largely with out incident. Nonetheless, there may be some concern amongst Japanese officers that the U.S. aspect may strongly push for commerce concession through the second dialogue assembly.

Japan had a $69-billion commerce surplus with the US final yr, in line with the U.S. Treasury Division, which has expressed concern over what it known as the “persistence” of the imbalance.

Japanese officers counter that Tokyo accounts for a a lot smaller slice of the U.S. deficit than prior to now, whereas China’s imbalance is way greater.

Wrting by Stanley White; Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Enhancing by Kim Coghill

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