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WASHINGTON: The Biden administration announced Thursday an agreement with Tokyo to increase the amount of beef the United States exports to Japan without automatically increasing customs duties.

“The United States and Japan have reached an agreement,” US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

The accord means it will now be possible for Japan to import more American beef – above the previously agreed threshold – before tariffs imposed on the product rise from 25.8 percent to 38.5 percent, a senior USTR official told reporters.

The United States will be able to export more beef to Japan and maintain moderate tariff levels, a move categorized as a “win-win.”

“The new… mechanism will allow US exporters to meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality beef and reduce the probability that Japan will impose higher tariffs in the future,” the statement said.

The threshold had been hit in March 2021, prompting Japan to raise the import fee until the end of its fiscal year, April 30. This accelerated discussions between the companies, the USTR official said.

The agreement will go into effect when the full text has been finalized.

The United States is the world’s number-one exporter of beef, with more than $10 billion of sales in 2021, including $2.4 billion to Japan, according to USTR figures.

Tokyo and Washington signed a still-valid trade agreement in October 2019.

Japan lowered tariffs on US agricultural goods, including beef, by $7 billion, while the United States agreed to drop import fees on Japanese agricultural items, such as soy sauce and green tea, by $40 million, and to lower tariffs on Japanese beef.

The agricultural sector was furious with former president Donald Trump – who was then seeking re-election – for the decision, as it had already been trampled in the trade war with China.

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