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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 30 January 2013

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Wednesday 30th January 2013.
Michael Priestley - TheBeefSite Editor

Michael Priestley

Opportunity Knocks in Japan

After a series of thorough farm and abattoir inspections, the Japanese government has eased the age restrictions on imports of beef from Canada, France; the Netherlands and the United States meaning that beef from cattle under 31 months of age can now be imported into the Japanese market.

Scheduled to come into force on February 1, the changes will revise restrictions of almost ten years lifting the age of cattle from the previous limit of under 21 months. The trade limits initially came as a reaction to fears surrounding the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak which have since eased.

Diligent BSE measures reduced the beef herd eligible for shipment to around 20 per cent while BSE free nations, including Australia, addressed arrears. Import revisions wil raise the eligible figure to include around 90 per cent of the beef herds of the aforementioned countries.

Last year 135,000 metric tons of US beef was shipped to Japan. A figure forecast by the US Meat Export Federation to increase by over 40 per cent to 225,000 metric tons.

Japan is currently the third largest buyer of beef globally and the second and fourth largest export destinations for the US and Canada respectively.

The revelations have come as a welcome boost to producers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D Alexander said: “This is great news for cattlemen and women and is a significant milestone in our trading relationship with Japan.”

“This move is an important step forward in paving the way toward greater export opportunities to one of our largest export markets.”

Opportunities are expected to extend elsewhere. The Canadian and French agricultural ministers Gerry Ritz and Stéphane Le Foll have reacted similarly to the news. They too hope new opportunities in the beef sector can be exploited to help producers and their own national economies.

Japanese exports have grossed around C$ 70-75 million dollars over the past three years. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association predicts this figure to double annually to C$140 million folowing on from changes.

The Canadian Meat Council also stated that it is looking forward to expanding trade possibilities for widespread sector benefits.

“Although the Japanese have high expectations for quality, they reward exporters who meet these expectations,” said Canadian Meat Council Executive Director Jim Laws.

“We look forward to rapid progress on the Canada-Japan Economic Partnership negotiations that were announced by the Canadian and Japanese governments earlier this year,” conluded CMS's Mr Laws.

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