Japan is slapping emergency tariffs of 50 per cent on imports of frozen U.S. beef after shipments surged.
Finance Minister Taro Aso announced the move Friday, saying he was prepared to explain the decision to the U.S. side.
Under World Trade Organization rules, Japan can introduce such safeguard tariffs when imports rise more than 17 percent year-on-year in any given quarter.
Beef imports have risen quickly as prices fell as the U.S. livestock sector recovered from drought. But the U.S. also faces stiff competition from Australia, whose free trade agreement with Japan means it does not face the same emergency tariffs.
The Finance Ministry reported 89,253 metric tons of frozen beef were imported so far this year. But frozen beef accounts for only about of fifth of Japan’s total beef imports.