WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Monday he welcomed Japan’s decision to review its ban on certain cuts of beef from the United States as a sign of Tokyo’s interest in joining talks on an Asia Pacific free trade pact.
“I welcome this important step which puts us on a path to address the longstanding issue of beef trade with the United States,” Kirk said in a statement after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba.
Kirk said he urged Japan to further open its market to U.S. beef exports as quickly as possible and told Gemba that Tokyo must be prepared to tackle a number of other trade barriers if it wants to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The partnership now involves the United States and eight other countries.
Japan currently bans imports of U.S. beef from cattle older than 20 months, as a result of several cases of mad cow disease found in the U.S. cattle about eight years ago.
The United States says all of its beef meets international safety standards regardless of the age of the cow.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat whose committee has jurisdiction over trade agreements in Congress, also welcomed the Japanese government’s decision to reassess the risk of importing beef from older U.S. cattle.
“As Japan moves forward with its review process, we will be watching closely to ensure its beef policies are based on science and consistent with international standards, so U.S. ranchers can compete on a level playing field,” he said.
Posted by Haylie Shipp