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Japan Tells U.S. Trade Report 'Inaccurate,'

11 May 2007

TOKYO - Japan said Thursday that current restrictions on U.S. beef imports should be strictly adhered to rather than relaxed, striking back at a U.S. report on trade barriers that it termed "inaccurate."

Japan was among 63 trading partners mentioned in the 2007 National Trade Estimate report released last month by the U.S. Trade Representative, with Japan receiving the third most coverage with 31 pages reviewing its trade policies.

The Bush administration is required to prepare the report as a way of informing Congress of its priorities in trying to tear down harmful trade barriers.

"Although the two government have carried on constructive dialogue, the Report still contains many inaccurate or unilateral descriptions," Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

After giving "due consideration," Japan's government submitted its comments to the U.S. government on Wednesday, the statement said.

Japan's restrictions on U.S. beef imports — imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease — were among the barriers the USTR cited in its report.

Japan tightly controls U.S. beef imports and allows cuts only from cattle 20 months old or younger, which it deems safe. A number of U.S. exporters have been banned from exporting beef to Japan due to various violations of its import conditions.

Washington, however, has been pressing Japan to open its markets fully to all beef deemed safe under World Organization for Animal Health guidelines.

"Every country is allowed to introduce or maintain more severe sanctions than international standards if there is a scientifically justifiable reason," the Japanese government said in its comments, available on the Foreign Ministry's Web site.

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Source: International Herald Tribune


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