Sunday, March 3, 2024

Exporters chill about US-Japan beef deal

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New Zealand beef exporters unfazed by news that more US beef may be heading to Japan.
Grass-fed New Zealand beef is expected to remain a popular export to Japan.
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Leading beef exporters are unfazed by a new deal allowing greater United States exports to Japan.

The Japanese Diet – the country’s parliament – has formally endorsed an earlier agreement to allow the US to sell more beef to Japan before it triggers so-called “safeguard tariffs”.

New Zealand has savoured its beef access to Japan as one of the big prizes of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Some commentators have suggested the US-Japan beef deal gives the US CPTPP benefits via the back door, after US  membership of CPTPP was blocked by then president Donald Trump and left dormant by President Joe Biden.

The deal on beef was welcomed by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

But a New Zealand beef exporter, Rick Walker of ANZCO, does not think the agreement will cause US sales to displace NZ beef exports.

“Japan has always been an important market for US grain-fed beef, but it is a very different market for grass-fed beef, so [the US deal] is probably more of an issue for Australia,” he said.

“We don’t see it as creating any major issues in terms of our growing trade into Japan.”

Walker said actual US beef sales to Japan have been declining recently because China is increasing its purchases of US output.

An export manager at Silver Fern Farms, Peter Robinson, was also chipper.

“We expect these changes to have minimal impact on our beef volumes into Japan,” he said.

“Our grass-fed beef … typically goes into ingredient lean beef for burger manufacture and chilled premium cuts for retail and food service, as opposed to US imports, which are typically either brisket or chuck roll.”

NZ beef sales to Japan have been rising steadily since the CPTPP was signed. It is now NZ’s third largest market, though it trails far behind China and the US.

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