NCBA Statement on U.S.-Japan Beef Trade Discussions
WASHINGTON - “U.S. and Japanese officials appear to be making progress in their discussions toward expanding U.S. beef trade with Japan. America’s cattlemen are grateful to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and his team for achieving these positive developments. NCBA is pleased with the cooperation shown in recent days between senior officials of the U.S. and Japanese governments toward resolving the beef trade issue.
“Japanese officials have said they will consider revising their inspection system to meet standards that are more reasonable and science-based. This represents another long-awaited but positive step toward normalizing trade of U.S. beef with Japan. More importantly, this represents a significant technical step on the part of Japan to make its policies consistent with international guidelines, including those of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)."
“Additional positive developments are anticipated after the OIE votes on May 20 to change the BSE risk status for the United States to ‘controlled risk.’ The controlled risk classification recognizes that OIE-recommended, science-based mitigation measures are in place to effectively manage any possible risk of BSE in the U.S. cattle population. This status is considered favorable in the international community, and should help pave the way for trade in all U.S. beef and beef products regardless of age, as long as specified risk materials (SRMs) are removed.
“President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Abe are scheduled to meet this week. We anticipate that further discussions will take place on the topic of beef trade. In preparation for these discussions, NCBA has strongly emphasized the need for Japan to move toward compliance with OIE guidelines for beef trade.
“Prior to December 2003, Japan was one of the United States’ largest beef export markets, valued at over $1.4 billion annually. Japan could be a lucrative market for U.S. cattlemen once again, but the road toward achieving that goal has been long and time-consuming. In order for trade to benefit both nations, we must insist on principles that are science-based and fair.”