Johanns Expects No Breakthrough In Beef Trade From Abe-Bush Talks

US - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Thursday he expects no breakthrough in a U.S.-Japan spat over beef trade in a summit between President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week.
calendar icon 20 April 2007
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"I'd be very surprised if there were a breakthrough," he told journalists, referring to a U.S. demand that Japan swiftly loosen its trade criteria for U.S. beef imports under a bilateral agreement.

"But my hope is that we can figure out some way of moving forward to try to put our heads together and solve this problem," Johanns said, adding he wants to get "some sense" of how it will be resolved.

While denying he is opposed to fresh Japanese inspections of U.S. meatpackers, he said Tokyo should first ease its mad cow disease-linked controls on U.S. beef imports.

Bush and Abe are due to meet at the president's Maryland retreat Camp David on April 27. Bush has made it clear that he will raise the beef trade dispute at the bilateral summit.

Japan was the biggest foreign market for U.S. beef before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found in December 2003. The United States exported $1.4 billion worth of beef to Japan that year.

At issue is whether Japan should relax the criteria the two countries agreed to in December 2005 in ending a two-year-old Japanese ban on U.S. beef imports. The conditions include limiting U.S. beef to meat from cattle aged up to 20 months

Source: Yahoo Asia News
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