On May 17, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that Japan has agreed to eliminate longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports, including the 30-month cattle age limit.
Later in the day, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced the removal of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada and elimination of those countries’ retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.
U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Economist Erin Borror says these developments are very important breakthroughs for the U.S. red meat industry. Japan is already the largest international market for U.S. beef, with exports last year topping $2 billion, and USMEF projects that having full beef access to Japan will increase exports by another $150 million to $200 million annually. Beef muscle cuts from over-30-month cattle that are most likely to achieve success with Japanese buyers include short plate, chuckeye rolls, short ribs, middle meats, clods and briskets. Beef variety meat items most likely to be in demand include mountain chain tripe, tongues, outside skirts, hanging tenders, abomasum and intestines.
Borror says elimination of Mexico's 20% retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork, which has been in place since mid-2018, is absolutely critical to the U.S. pork industry's profitability, noting that first-quarter pork exports to Mexico declined by $109 million year-over-year. Canada also imposed a 10% retaliatory tariff on cooked beef products from the United States, which had a negative impact on exports of those items (which had totaled $168 million the previous year). She adds that the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico and the subsequent retaliatory tariffs represented a major obstacle for ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), so elimination of these tariffs should boost momentum for USMCA.