Japan plans to work out soon the final details of an accord with Hong Kong for the territory to resume imports of Japanese beef after banning the trade since September 2001 when Japan discovered its first case of mad cow disease, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

Japanese exporters will probably begin shipping beef to Hong Kong in the fall, if Hong Kong is satisfied with inspection procedures for the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and food safety measures taken at meat-processing facilities in Japan, the sources said.

In addition to Hong Kong, other countries suspended imports of Japanese beef after the discovery of the first BSE case. Although the U.S. and Canada have begun buying beef from Japan again, the import ban is still in place in Hong Kong.

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