Prediction: 75,000 Tonnes Shipped from US to Japan

JAPAN - A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture has said that US beef exports to Japan are expected to increase more than 60% by the end of the year.
calendar icon 14 March 2008
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The data gathered for the report, estimating an overall export of 75,000 tonnes, relies heavily on beliefs that Japan will relax it's import guidelines, a top U.S. industry official said on Thursday.

Japan, like many other large Asian markets, banned American beef imports in December 2003, after the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease.

The Guardian says that after a hitch in early 2006, the ban was lifted in the summer of that year but on condition that the beef only come from cattle aged 20 months or younger. "I can't predict what is going to happen between the U.S. and Japan, but we are predicting that something will happen, so this (the forecast) is predicated on a change from the current situation to a much more open situation," said Philip M. Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Data provided by the U.S. Agriculture Department provides a basis for the outlook.

"But, I don't see that that's going to be happening in the first half of this year, so we would expect this would be happening in the last half of this year," he said in an interview.

Seng was on a regular visit to Japan, the top foreign buyer of U.S. beef before the 2003 ban, when it bought $1.4 billion worth of the meat, says the Guardian.

Washington has been pressing Japan to scrap the age limit noting that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) gave the United States a "controlled risk" status for beef safety last May.

Many Japanese beef industry officials believe that the Japan government is prepared to relax the age rule to allow beef from cattle aged up to 30 months, although the official word is that nothing has been decided.

  • View the Guardian story by clicking here.
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