Washington Upset Over Bans On U.S. Beef

WASHINGTON, (Kyodo) -- U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk reiterated Washington's discontent Friday with restrictions Japan and other countries have imposed on U.S. beef imports.

"Too many of our trading partners -- especially Japan, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong -- maintain unscientific restrictions on U.S. beef," he said in remarks to a gathering of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Kirk said the administration of President Barack Obama "is currently reviewing trade-related measures put in place by these and other foreign governments."

The top U.S. trade diplomat made the call after his organization said in a report in March that Japan should raise the age limit on cattle eligible for imports from the currently agreed 20 months and fully reopen its market to U.S. beef imports.

The report said Washington has repeatedly urged Japan to bring its measures against mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in line with international guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health by allowing imports of all U.S. beef and beef products derived from animals of all ages deemed safe under OIE guidelines.

"The U.S. government remains highly concerned by Japan's unwillingness to adopt science-based, international guidelines for BSE under which beef and beef products can be safely traded," it said.

The report also pressed Japan to lower tariffs on beef, citrus, dairy and processed food products.

"Tariff reductions are a high priority for the U.S. government in the Doha Development Agenda agriculture negotiations," the report said.