US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman has confirmed that meetings with her Japanese counterpart, Yoshiyuki Kamei, failed to prevent Japan imposing an additional tax on beef imports.

The new tariff, starting 1 August, will be hiked from the current 38.5% to 50% following a steep rise in imports of fresh beef. Veneman spent an hour with Kamei discussing the tariff as well as international trade negotiations and bilateral issues concerning BSE, reported Reuters.

Veneman told reporters she had urged Kamei not to impose the new tariffs, but he had responded that Japanese law demanded it. If imports surge, tariffs must be hiked. However, US producers have argued that the surge was actually more of a recovery after a sharp drop after Japan discovered BSE in 2001, leading to a drop in beef consumption.