A Commentary on Japan’s Tariff Hike on Beef Imports from the United States

743 words | 3 page(s)

Japan and the United States often are mentioned collectively for the good reasons – the two countries joining thoughts of protecting themselves from enemy nations and their economic quest of increasing trade volumes between them. However a suggested 50% tariff hike for beef exports from the U.S. to Japan seemingly may undermine the relationships the countries have, thanks to an imagined political micro-aggression and the real economic consequences the U.S. beef farmers may suffer.

The Political Implications the Tariff Hike Has On the Relations between the Two
Geographically, Japan counts itself as among the most reliable economic and politic partner the United States has in Asia. Such diplomatic relation is expected to get accompanied with a series of friendly gestures to appease the relations. The beef exports tariff hike may perhaps imply that the U.S trust on one of its strong allies may slowly be slipping, perhaps due to a dwindling influence. The tariff rise needs close monitoring. The exclusion of countries such as Mexico, Chile and Australia from the policy outwardly suggests that Japan may have approved the move to perhaps counter some unknown political emotions.

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President Donald Trump during his presidential campaigns suggested implementing a hike in import tariffs for countries such as China and Japan in efforts to “save American businesses” (Mayeda, 2018). Such views often have been perceived with skepticism, and have on numerous occasions been branded as being “unreasonably isolationist” by many economic and political circles. America of course, with all logic observed, needs to trade with other countries if it is to prosper. By subjecting a 50% tariff hike on beef imports from the United States, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is perhaps secretly sending a message undermining Donald Trump’s somewhat exaggerated policy of “America First”.

The United States Definitely Is on the Losing Side Because of the Hike, But How does Japan Benefits from the Situation?

The United States accounts for over 20% of beef imports Japan receives from EPA nations. In 2017, the exports totaled about $730 million for the Jan-May period. The United Stated undeniably benefits from the beef trade relationship, and the tariff hike inevitably spells a bad news – likely dwindling economic fortunes that may cause massive job losses in the sector. Japan on the other hand benefits from this isolationist style economic approach – it creates an environment that significantly reduces competition the Japanese beef farmers face from American imports.

Supply-demand relationships before and after the tariff hike
American companies involved in the frozen beef business will certainly consider economic measures like reducing their exports quantity and engaging in efforts of searching for other market destinations. Japan may have therefore arrived on the decision having in mind the interests of its farmers, who firm a strong block in its pursuit for global economic dominance.

How the Ban May Impact the Japanese Population Relying on Beef and Its Commodities
Japan is among the world’s top importers of meat products, ranking position third, according to statistics by Beef 2 Live. The tariff hike may for some time cause a decline in the supply of beef commodities, assuming that the gap left created by the tariff hike does not get filled at the right schedule. That somehow may mean a declining quantity of beef available to Japan’s beef-loving population. However that is among the least worries the country’s economic analysts have to encounter.

Statistics indicate that the Japanese beef sector has been growing tremendously, producing over 450,000 tons of the product on a yearly basis. Therefore, as the tariff hike hurts the U.S. businesses, it benefits the growing Japanese beef sector by reducing the fierce competition it faces from the American imports. The move definitely does well for a country that has committed itself to creating more economic opportunities for its citizens over the years.

  • Andrew Mayeda, R. B. (2018, January 03). Trump Pulls His Punches in First Foray IntoLong-Pledged Tariffs. Retrieved from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/trump-makes-first-big-trade-move-with-tariffs-aimed-at-asia
  • Beef 2 Live. (2018, February 18). Wolrd Beef Imports: Ranking of Countries. Retrieved from Beef 2 Live: http://beef2live.com/
  • CNBC. (2017, July 28). Japan to hike tariffs on frozen beef imports from US and others. Retrieved from CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com
  • Kansas State University. (2017, April 4). Annual US Beef Exports to Japan. Retrieved from Kansas State University: https://www.agmanager.info/livestock-meat/livestock-marketing-charts/annual-us-beef-exports-japan
  • Statista. (2018). Total beef production volume of the agricultural industry in Japan from 2010 to 2015 (in 1,000 tons). Retrieved from Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/646450/japan-beef-production-volume/

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