Trade observers in Japan are suggesting the prospect of access any time this year to the Japanese market for US imported beef from animals older than 20 months is looking increasingly distant.
Trade journal Shokuniku Sokuho claimed recently that the US beef import protocols issue may not be resolved this year, due to the degree of caution being shown in discussions and processes by Japan’s Food Safety Commission.
The Commission’s prions expert panel has met four times this year, but is only one of four expert panels focused on gathering relevant information and examining the areas of caution necessary to ease US beef import protocols.
Actual discussions about the import protocols will not start until after the next meeting of the prion panel, Shokuniku Sokuho said.
Meanwhile in other trade access developments, Japan and Australia held their 15th round of negotiations under their Economic Partnership Agreement in Canberra recently. These were the second round of talks following the resumption of dialogue, after a lengthy recess caused by the Tsunami/earthquake events of March last year.
The Canberra meeting was the first since the Japanese decision to express interest in participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) involving various Pacific Rim nations. The TPP negotiation will require Japan to show a strong commitment to agricultural reform – a reform best reflected in an FTA with an agricultural country like Australia, some onlookers suggest.
While beef remains officially on the list of sensitive goods not for negotiation, some flexibility is appearing to emerge – an encouraging a starting point, onlookers say.