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Japan probably will not have to take safeguard measures on beef imports in August, because they have not broken the threshold of 17 percent, according to trade data released Thursday.

Japan was expected to impose its first safeguard curbs on beef in two years next month to protect farmers and related businesses from imports, which were seen surging in April and May.

But the data showed April-June year-on-year growth in beef imports fell below 17 percent, which is the threshold for activating emergency import restrictions.

Japan was set to automatically raise its tariff by 11.5 percentage points to 50 percent on Aug. 1 under a 1993 World Trade Organization safeguard, if a year-on-year increase in beef imports over that threshold was seen in the quarter on a cumulative quarterly basis.

But smaller-than-expected imports in the April-June quarter resulted from importers delaying customs clearance of beef imports by temporarily storing them in bond to register for July, industry officials said.

Japan’s beef imports sharply dropped when U.S. beef was banned due to the discovery of mad cow disease in the U.S. in late December 2003.

But total beef imports have recently rebounded, thanks chiefly to supplies from Australia, resulting in a jump in imports of fresh, chilled and frozen beef in April and May.

In the April-June quarter, the year-on-year rise in fresh and chilled beef imports was 13 percent, while that of frozen beef imports was 9 percent, according to the data.

The data also confirmed that Japan will forgo a safeguard import curb on pork for the first time in five years because imports stayed under the threshold.

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