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Russell Nemetz What Does Greater Access to Japan Mean for U.S. Lamb?
by Russell Nemetz, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: September 10, 2019

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The Trump Administration recently announced an agreement in principle to provide greater access to the Japanese market for U.S. goods. While the details of the agreement are not yet available, it’s widely speculated that it will include reductions in the tariffs certain U.S. products face, perhaps even achieving tariffs rates sought under the Trans Pacific Partnership. Currently, U.S. beef faces a 38.5 percent tariff and U.S. pork faces a 4.3 percent tariff when entering Japan. This has many sheep producers asking what this announcement means for the sheep industry.

The bottom line is that this announcement will have little impact on the U.S. sheep industry because our products do not have a duty rate when entering Japan. U.S. lamb, wool and sheepskins all enter Japan duty free. It was just over a year ago that USDA made the announcement that, after a long hiatus, they were able to re-open Japan to U.S. lamb exports and absent a duty, we expect that market to continue to grow.

While there is no direct impact from this latest announcement, the American Sheep Industry Association is hopeful that a rising tide will lift all boats through increased beef and pork exports at a lower tariff rate when the details are formally announced. This also sets the stage to begin negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement with Japan. While that process may take years, ASI will work to ensure U.S. sheep producers maintain current favorable access.

Despite the current trade situation, China also holds tremendous potential for U.S. lamb exports once existing issues are resolved. This week, Senator Daines (R-Mont) visited China and carried with him a letter from the Montana Wool Growers and ASI highlighting the benefits of U.S. lamb. While China has been a top export destination for U.S. wool and sheepskins, the country is currently closed to U.S. lamb. A change in that policy holds the potential to open a vast market for U.S. lamb and variety meat exports.

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