WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The U.S. hopes to hold technical talks on beef trade this week now that it has responded to Tokyo’s questions about an unacceptable veal shipment, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Monday.
“I think the logical next step would be technical discussions, and if we get a signal from Japan, literally we’ll dispatch those people overnight,” Johanns told reporters.
After confirming that his department submitted written answers to Japan over the weekend, Johanns expressed hope the two nations would be able to move toward resuming imports of U.S. beef and said he was confident it could be accomplished within a week.
If Tokyo needs “additional time to analyze our answers and try to figure out what the technical teams might talk about, that’s something we can work through,” he said.
Nevertheless, the U.S. farm chief warned Japan against waiting too long to lift the ban, which was reimposed in January after a prohibited backbone was discovered in a shipment of U.S. veal just after Japan eased off on the ban.
He reminded Tokyo that the U.S. beef industry and lawmakers are getting frustrated.
He said the “biggest” frustration is that a single ineligible shipment led Japan to totally shut out U.S. beef.
Japan asked the U.S. for more information after the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report on the veal shipment, including a set of corrective measures to ensure compliance with the agreed bilateral export requirements, last month.
The veal shipment at Narita airport led Japan to reinstate a total ban on Jan. 20 as it was found to contain backbone material, which is banned under the accord as a mad cow disease risk part.