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There was an abundance of good news on the trade front this past week.  On May 17, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Japan had agreed to eliminate restrictions on beef imports from the United States. The U.S. now has full access as Japan eliminated the over-30-month age rule.  Think about this for just a moment; Japan is already the largest international market for our beef. Last year exports to Japan were over $2 billion.  Now that the over-30-month rule is gone, it is expected to increase exports to Japan in the range of $150 to $200 million annually.

According to U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Economist Erin Borror, “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.”

Later the same 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 these very same countries’ eliminated tariffs on U.S. goods, namely U.S. red meat to Mexico and prepared beef products to Canada.

There had been 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent duty on aluminum imports.  Canada and Mexico both said the main reason why they agreed to do away with the tariffs on goods from the United States was because the metals tariffs were lifted and the key fact the U.S. did not replace them with a quota system or another limitation on trade.  It sounds like this very fact had been what was holding up getting the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) in place.

“Elimination of Mexico’s 20 percent 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,” Borror said, noting that first-quarter pork exports to Mexico declined by $109 million year-over-year.

“Canada also imposed a 10 percent retaliatory tariff on cooked beef products from the United States, which had a negative impact on exports of those items (which totaled $168 million the previous year),” Borror said.

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.”

It is finally nice to have some good news to talk about regarding trade.  Wish I had positive news about negotiations with China, but I don’t.

We are now nearing the end of May with Memorial Day right around the corner.  I hope everybody takes a few minutes to reflect and give thanks to those soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the freedoms all of us enjoy in this great country.

Memorial Day is also a time to remember all of our family members who have passed before us.  Dad’s 89thbirthday would have been May 28… sure do miss him!  Happy Birthday in Heaven, Dad.

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