Japan Should Stop U.S. Beef Import Limits

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative expressed strong dissatisfaction Wednesday with Japan’s import curbs on beef, urging Tokyo to remove the trade barrier.

“Reopening Japan’s beef market consistent with science and international standards as well as in a commercially viable manner is an important priority,” the USTR said in an annual trade barrier report for 2011.

Japan now limits U.S. beef imports to meat taken from cows aged up to 20 months out of concern about mad cow disease.

“Japan continues to maintain OIE-inconsistent market access barriers,” the report said, referring to the World Organization for Animal Health, which recommends that U.S. beef imports are permissible regardless of cow age.

In addition, the report said that “only a small fraction” of U.S.-made rice reaches Japanese consumers, “despite industry research showing Japanese consumers would buy U.S. high quality rice if it were more readily available.”

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