The U.S. red meat industry is optimistic about the opportunities ahead for U.S. pork and beef in Japan. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement Sunday will greatly improve access for these products in Japan, where they currently face a tariff disadvantage compared to products imported from countries participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
During the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) weekly report, USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom noted that this announcement is huge news as Japan is the United States’ largest value market on both beef and pork with $3.7 billion sales between the two last years.
“This puts us on an even playing field with our competitors, which is great. We can win if we're on a level playing field,” Halstrom says. “The industry has been very much aligned on the importance of Japan. We've been very clear on our message to the USDA and the USTR. And I have to commend the USDA and the USTR. They listened, they worked hard on our behalf and we’re seeing the fruits of that work now.”
In early September, Halstrom will lead a delegation of producers and other ag industry leaders to Japan where the news of this agreement will be very well received by key customers, he says.
“We have a very loyal customer base for U.S. products in Japan. They've been loyal for decades,” Halstrom says. “But the fact that they know that this change is coming, they can start planning ahead. And this is what they've been waiting for – clear direction on our status in terms of duty differentials.”
The market continues to grow in Japan even with this duty disadvantage, he adds.
“You look at the major segments of our business in Japan – national retail, regional retail, food service, convenience store segment – all of these segments are growing,” Halstrom says.