Tariffs fall, seafood sales to Japan rise

Tariff reductions are creating new market opportunities for seafood sales to Japan

By Free Trade Agreement Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The value of Australia’s seafood exports to Japan are on the rise, and tariff cuts delivered under Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan are providing a competitive edge for our seafood exporters.

Japan is Australia’s second largest export market and the world’s third largest economy. The free trade agreement, known as the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), is boosting bilateral trade and investment. JAEPA is Japan’s first free trade agreement with a significant agricultural exporter. It came into force in January 2015 and is progressively eliminating many of the tariffs that previously applied to Australian exports.

Japanese tariffs have, for instance, been eliminated on Australian exports of rock lobsters, oysters, shrimps, prawns, fresh and preserved abalone, crabs, fresh and chilled Yellowfin Tuna, smoked salmon, and fresh sea urchins.

Australian suppliers will get more benefits as other seafood tariffs are progressively eliminated (Table 1).

Table 1: Examples of Japanese tariffs being eliminated on Australian seafood exports.
Product Tariffs
Southern Bluefin Tuna (fresh, chilled and frozen)
Prior to JAEPA: 3.5% | Current rate: 2.7% |Elimination date: 1 April 2024
Swordfish (fresh or chilled)
Prior to JAEPA: 3.5% | Current rate: 3.5% | First JAEPA cut – 1 April 2019: to 2.9% | Elimination date: 1 April 2024
Atlantic and Danube Salmon (fresh or chilled)
Prior to JAEPA: 3.5% | Current rate: 3.5% | First JAEPA cut – 1 April 2019: to 2.9% | Elimination date: 1 April 2024
Trout (fresh or chilled)
 Prior to JAEPA: 3.5% | Current rate: 2.2% | Elimination date: 1 April 2024

Overall, Australian seafood exports to Japan were valued at $406 million in 2016, an increase of about 8 per cent on 2015. This includes a 46 per cent increase in the value of cold water shrimp and prawn exports, and a 57 per cent increase in the value of frozen fish liver and roe exports (Table 2).

International trade can be influenced by a range of factors, such as exchange rates, level of demand, availability of supply, technical market access issues and returns in other export markets. However, the JAEPA tariff cuts over the past two years are clearly providing a competitive boost for our seafood exporters and are contributing to increased sales in Japan of Australian seafood products. 

Deputy chair of the Seafood Trade Advisory Group Wayne Haggar says Japan is Australia’s second largest seafood export market and the second largest consumer of seafood per capita in the world behind Iceland.

“JAEPA has provided the vehicle for Australian seafood exporters of traditional products to expand their footprint within the market, but has also opened the door to the export of other commercial Australian species. The tariff reductions provide a competitive pricing edge over many competing countries.”

The next round of JAEPA tariff cuts will occur on 1 April 2018 and further cuts will occur on 1 April in the following years. These prospective tariff cuts will mean that Australian seafood exporters will get an even greater competitive edge in the Japanese market in the future. To benefit from these JAEPA tariff cuts, Australian exporters need to have JAEPA-related certificate-of-origin documentation to prove the Australian origin of seafood exports. 

Table 2: Data on Australian seafood exports to Japan, 2014–16.
   Export values ($)
Product
2014 2015 2016
Live eels
50,353 41,328 102,065
Southern Bluefin Tuna (fresh or chilled)
10,877,980 14,948,600 16,495,030
Yellowfin Tuna (fresh
or chilled)
2,393,648 2,961,124 2,687,175
Fish livers and roes (frozen)
915,905 1,423,478 1,443,000
Crabs (frozen and unfrozen)
75,263 288,672 500,331
Cold water shrimps
and prawns (frozen)
1,102,690 863,047 1,602,240
Shrimps and prawns (frozen excl. cold water shrimps and prawns) 14,889,801 25,261,205 32,919,062

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade STARS database and based on ABS catalogue number 5368.0

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