USA, Washington. US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions that eliminate Japan’s longstanding restrictions on US beef exports, paving the way for expanded sales to the United States’ top global beef market.
Last week, on the margins of the G-20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in Niigata, Japan, Secretary Perdue met with Japanese government officials and affirmed the importance of science-based trade rules. The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow US products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003.
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that this expanded access could increase US beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 mill. annually. The agreement is also an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan further aligns its import requirements with international standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
In December 2003, Japan banned US beef and beef products following the detection of a BSE-positive animal in the United States. In December 2005, Japan restored partial access for US beef muscle cuts and offal items from cattle 20 months of age and younger. In February 2013, Japan extended access to include beef and beef products from cattle less than 30 months of age.
In April 2017, Japan eliminated its age-based BSE testing on domestic Japanese cattle, paving the way for similar age-based restrictions to be lifted on negligible BSE-risk trading partners, including the United States. On January 15, 2019, Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) concluded eliminating the age restriction for beef from the United States, Canada and Ireland posed a negligible risk to human health. Based on the FSC risk assessment, Japan began consultations with the United States to revise its import requirements in order to align with the BSE guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).