Japan is in the final stage of talks with China to resume exports of beef to the world’s most populous market for the first time in about two decades, government sources said Thursday.
Tokyo is hoping the exports will be resumed next year, the sources said. Beijing has banned beef imports from Japan since the first case of mad cow disease was detected in the country in 2001.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are expected to sign a pact on animal health and quarantine, which will serve as a precondition for the resumption, during a meeting that is likely to take place Monday.
Wang is scheduled to visit Japan for a two-day meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Nagoya from Friday.
Beef consumption has been on the rise in China, especially among high-income households.
In recent years, wagyu beef — known for its tenderness and marbled fat — has been gaining popularity overseas. Japan’s overall beef exports increased to ¥24.7 billion in 2018, up from ¥3.4 billion in 2010.
Japan and China broadly agreed on the quarantine pact during their high-level economic dialogue in April, paving the way for Beijing’s lifting of the ban.
The progress toward resumption is seen as a sign of improving ties between the world’s second- and third-largest economies, whose ties had been chilly until several years ago due to wartime and territorial issues.