August 4, 2004



US Eyeing Resuming Beef Exports Before Lifting Ban On Japan


Japan is unhappy at the US government's plan to resume exporting American beef to Japan before removing an import ban on Japanese beef.


Tokyo views the US plan as disregarding a bilateral agreement to simultaneously resolve the suspension of beef trade between the two countries, which was caused by the outbreak of mad cow disease.


Japan halted American beef imports since the first US mad cow case was reported in December in the state of Washington.


The United States, for its part, has kept an import ban on Japanese beef as a result of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Japan in 2000, and of mad cow disease in 2001.


The two countries agreed in April that they should strive to reach a conclusion to resume beef trade by this summer.


Thus Japan has begun reviewing its blanket testing on all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease.


Recently, the US government sounded Japan out about a plan to resume American beef exports to the country before lifting the import ban on Japanese beef. Its request was based on the grounds that necessary amendments to food safety rules take a long time, so as to avoid affecting third countries.


Japan and the United States have held three expert meetings on the beef trade problems, and are due to discuss specific terms to remove their import bans at a meeting of senior government officials later this month.


The US plan may affect the coming negotiations especially because the two governments have yet to narrow their differences over the terms for removing the US import ban on Japanese beef.

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