BRUSSELS – The European Commission said Wednesday that European Union member states have decided to allow imports of Japanese beef, a move that will enable Japan’s beef producers to tap into the bloc of some 500 million people.
Beef exports to the European Union are expected to start after both sides complete internal procedures within a few months. With Japanese food already winning popularity in Europe, Kobe beef and other high-grade beef brands are likely to see solid demand.
The EU decision follows Japan’s move on Feb. 1 to lift a ban on beef imports from France and the Netherlands by easing import regulations put in place to prevent mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
The commission welcomed Tokyo’s step, saying it indicates the Japanese market’s nontariff barriers can be eliminated and expressing hope for progress by the two sides toward concluding a free-trade accord.
The EU member states made the decision to include Japan in the list of countries that can export beef to the regional bloc after checking the sanitary management at farms and processing facilities, according to the commission.