U.S. trade negotiators renew resolve to press Japan on beef

US - U.S. trade negotiators renewed their determination Monday to prod Japan to raise the age limit on cattle eligible for imports to 30 months from the currently agreed 20 months and fully reopen its market to U.S. beef imports.
calendar icon 3 April 2007
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In its 2007 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said its goal is to have Tokyo relax its trade criteria limiting U.S. beef imports after mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first discovered in the United States in December 2003.

"The United States has urged Japan to bring its BSE measures in line with international guidelines set by the World Animal Health Organization by allowing imports of all beef and beef products deemed safe," the report said.

"The United States will work vigorously toward achieving this important objective," the USTR said in the Japan section covering a broad range of issues from regulatory reform to investment barriers.

The 650-page report lists 63 major trading partners, with the longest chapter dealing with China and citing inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights as a priority area for improvement.

The report came at a time when Washington is poised to intensify pressure on Tokyo to expand the age limit on cattle slaughtered for its beef imports to 30 months from 20 as soon as the global animal disease watchdog gives the United States official beef-safety status as widely anticipated. ADVERTISEMENT

The United States is expected to receive the status at the General Assembly gathering in May of the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, known commonly by the French acronym OIE.

A senior USTR official said Washington will continue striving to realize a "complete reopening of the Japanese market as soon as possible," citing the need to bring U.S. beef exports to Japan back to the level before the outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States.

Japan was the biggest foreign market for U.S. beef before the first U.S. case of the brain-wasting disease, which also affects humans, was found more than three years ago. The United States exported $1.4 billion worth of beef to Japan in 2003.

Source: Yahoo Asia News
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