US Sees Steps Ahead For Greater Asian Beef Trade

US - U.S. beef interests hope steps in coming months will put them closer to expanded trade with lucrative Asian markets worth at least another $1 billion in trade, industry sources said on Tuesday.
calendar icon 1 August 2007
clock icon 1 minute read
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on Thursday will welcome his Japanese counterpart, Norihiko Akagi, in a Washington visit that will include talks on U.S. beef exports to the Asian nation.

Akagi last month replaced a predecessor who committed suicide. But he already faces problems amid reports that he fudged financial statements. And his boss, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, suffered a devastating defeat in elections this month.

"It is encouraging that ... almost immediately after the election is over, the Japanese agriculture minister is here to engage in dialogue," said Gregg Doud, an economist at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, an industry group. Akagi also will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

The Bush administration has been pressing Tokyo -- so far to little avail -- to relax import rules in place since mad cow disease surfaced in the United States in 2003.

Last year, Japan partially lifted its ban, but U.S. exporters are pressing for permission to ship beef from older cattle than currently allowed.

Their case was strengthened in May when the World Organization for Animal Health gave the United States a "controlled risk" status for beef safety. But it is up to Japan to decide on any new import rules.

Source: Yahoo Asia News
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