Egypt may restart clay imports from Japan

Kyodo

Egypt is considering resuming imports of clay from almost all areas of Japan after suspending them in 2011 because of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, according to Egyptian government officials.

Egypt also plans to ease its effective ban on Japanese seafood and similarly allow imports from all prefectures except Fukushima, host of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crippled in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The government could formalize the decision later this month, the officials said.

Before the disaster, Japanese clay had been widely used in Egypt to manufacture tableware. Japan exported about $143,000 worth of clay to Egypt in 2010, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

Among importers of Japanese clay, Porcelain International Co., whose annual sales total $5 million, had made use of Japanese clay in all of its products.

Egypt also was the biggest importer of Japanese mackerel, because the fish, processed with high-level refrigeration technology in Japan, was popular with Egyptian consumers.

Last year, the Egyptian government eased restrictions on seafood imports from 36 prefectures that are relatively far from Fukushima. Under the latest plan, 10 more prefectures will be allowed to export mackerel to Egypt. They include Miyagi, Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Shizuoka.