Philip Seng, head of the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation, will meet with officials from Japan's Ministry of Agriculturetoday to discuss Japan's current system of duties on beef and pork imports.
According to Mr. Seng, he and a ministry official said the meeting would be an unofficial exchange of ideas, prompted by the multilateral trade talks under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. GATT aims at removing trade
barriers and liberalizing world trade.Mr. Seng said the U.S. meat industry would like to see beef tariffs, now at 60 percent, cut by 10 percentage points a year, but acknowledged its position on variable levies on pork imports was less clear-cut.
Beef tariffs are scheduled to drop to 50 percent on April 1 in line with a previous U.S.-Japan agreement. But a schedule for tariff cuts beyond fiscal 1993-94 (April-March) has not been decided.
He said U.S. pork exports to Japan could be hurt by straight tariffs if the Japanese government sets them too high.
Pork importers currently pay duties on the difference between the declared value of the imports and the minimum "gate" or import price of 612 yen per kilogram set by the government.
Mr. Seng said Japanese importers of U.S. pork pay only about 5 percent in import duties under the prevailing system of levies.
The industry would suffer if the government decides to replace the levies with very high tariffs, he added.
Meanwhile, the ministry denied resurfacing talk in pork markets here that it is looking to replace variable levies with tariffs.
"The matter is under consideration, but in the direction that the variable levies will be maintained," said a ministry official.
Japanese traders said there have been movements within the government to trade Japanese concessions on pork imports for leniency on Japan's controversial rice market.
But the official denied the government had made any such concessions. He said Japan will continue to seek the "understanding" of negotiating countries on pork imports at the trade talks.
Mr. Seng said he had not heard anything about the pork-for-rice concessions.