Japan could be willing to reduce its tariffs on red meat through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to Beef and Lamb NZ.
The industry body said it saw hopeful signs in a free trade agreement between Japan and Australia.
New Zealand pays $94m a year in tariffs on red meat exports to the 12 countries negotiating the TPP - $77 million of which goes to Japan.
Beef and Lamb chief executive Scott Champion said the Japanese tariff on beef imports starts at 38.5 percent.
"And under certain conditions of increases in volume year on year that can actually go to 50 percent. It's one of the markets where the tariffs are very high and obviously when there's a significant volume, and Japan is a key export market, that starts to tally up quite quickly," Mr Champion said.
Japan may be convinced to reduce its tariffs, with Mr Champion pointing to its free trade agreement with Australia.
"In the recent negotiations (2014) they have reduced tariffs and set a pathway for the reduction of tariffs. So it can be done and we would want to see within the TPP negotiations a similar reduction."
Japan's beef industry receives large government subsidies to produce premium Wagyu products that have a strong local demand.
Mr Champion said New Zealand beef did not compete head-on with Japan's domestic market.
"When you look at the sort of product that New Zealand sends in, or in fact the other importing countries as well, Japanese beef tends to sit in quite a different part of the market. So this is not about head to head competition by any means it's about removing the costs for countries that are importing into that market around quite a different product type."
New Zealand is working with Australia, the United States, Canada and Mexico to reduce Japanese red meat tariffs, said Mr Champion.