Scientific food rules would help Japan: lobbyist


The new sanitary and phytosanitary standards being proposed by the United States are a stumbling block in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks but will be positive for Japan, a U.S. meat lobby says.

Asked whether U.S. agricultural groups want stronger sanitary rules than those set by the World Trade Organization, U.S. Meat Export Federation President Philip Seng said that what is being called SPS-plus is basically “more adherence to the international norms.”

SPS-plus will be advantageous for Japanese agriculture, Seng said. It means “adherence to accepted science” and a more expedited process to cope with unscientific protectionist measures, he said.

Adopting standards based on science will be “good for Japan” and all other “countries that are in trade,” Seng said, referring to embargoes or strengthened inspections that were placed on Japanese goods by some countries after the Fukushima core meltdowns in March 2011.

As for Japanese concerns that safety, including in school meals, might be threatened by lower standards in other countries if Japan joins the TPP, Seng said that as long as standards are based on science, “they can be as strict as before or even stricter.”

Seng said he hoped that “if Japan does have concerns, it would express these, not close the market.”

Asked whether the U.S. meat industry is concerned about any negative impact on exports from the yen’s recent rapid drop, Seng said he was optimistic.

“We’re seeing this very strong enthusiasm by Japanese consumers to purchase” thanks to the government’s stimulus package.

“So what I see is although our products become more expensive in Japan because it takes more yen to buy, on the other hand, that’s being offset by optimism, by consumer spending,” he said.