U.S.-Japan beef trade should resume soon

October 25, 2004, as reported by just-food.com: Beef trade between Japan and the U.S. should resume soon according to a recently reached agreement between trade negotiators for both countries.

The re-opening of trade lines is still contingent on the carrying out of outstanding regulatory processes. Under terms of the agreement the US will be permitted to sell beef to Japanese importers from animals below 21 months of age, and specified risk materials, such as spinal cords, must be removed from all animals.

"The agreement reached in Tokyo will enable our beef trade to resume under a special marketing program. We then will review that program after six months of operation, with a view toward returning trade to more normal patterns,” said US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman.

Japan banned imports of US beef last December following the discovery of a single case of BSE in Washington state. Until the trade ban was imposed, Japan was the largest market for US beef and beef products with sales in 2003 before the ban was imposed exceeding US$1.7bn. Exports in total account for well over 10% of the total value of US beef output.

The agreement was welcomed by J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute.

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