WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Several U.S. lawmakers are trying to attach a resolution on beef-related sanctions against Japan to a package of fiscal 2006 budget appropriations bills to get it passed quickly and easily, a congressional official said Wednesday.
The move in the House of Representatives will pave the way for the resolution, if successfully attached, to sail through Congress together with the appropriations bills as early as summer, before fiscal 2006 begins Oct. 1.
The House Agriculture Committee staff member said it would not be easy to attach the resolution, but if it was attached, it would pass easily as lawmakers wanted to send the appropriations bills through Congress.
Some lawmakers have called it “premature” to actually impose unilateral retaliation on Japan, saying they want the issue to be resolved through negotiations or by taking it to a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel for multilateral sanctions.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and other U.S. administration officials have also expressed opposition to retaliatory measures, saying they prefer negotiations to resolve the issue.
But if the resolution clears Congress, the administration will face even stronger political pressure to get Japan to lift its 16-month-old import ban on U.S. beef.
“We’re encouraging the Japanese government to move expeditiously on this particular issue so that we do not get into a position where we have a broader trade dispute,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., when asked about the move to attach the resolution. The resolution was submitted March 3 by about 60 House members, urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to immediately impose retaliatory economic sanctions against Japan for failing to implement an agreement with the United States last October to resume imports of U.S. beef from cows aged up to 20 months.
Goodlatte made the comments after he and 21 other members of the committee summoned Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ryozo Kato on Wednesday, explaining the situations in their farming constituencies and urging Tokyo to lift the ban quickly before they were forced to seek sanctions.
Kato, who was called in by U.S. lawmakers for the third time on the beef issue, again refused to set a timeline and maintained Tokyo needed to wait for approval from the independent Food Safety Commission to resume imports.
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