Thursday, July 9, 2009

More progress still needed with U.S./ Japan beef trade

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced this week the result of an annual trade review with Japan, and there was significant progress made in several areas important to agriculture – except beef trade.

Agreements were reached on several issues like pesticide residue limits and use of substances on organic products. While this progress is important in opening potential markets for Texas producers, we must continue to make progress in the push to fully re-open the Japanese market to U.S. beef products.

Prior to 2004, U.S. beef exports to Japan totaled nearly 1 billion pounds. In response to the discovery of BSE in a Canadian-born cow found in a U.S. herd, Japan closed its market to American beef, and still five years later, U.S. exports have only recovered 23 percent of the market share they had less than a decade ago.

I know trade talks can be tough, but I also know persistence pays off. Such was the case with Mexico, a country that cut-off live U.S. beef cattle exports for four years. After persistence and continuous communication, we were successful in resuming trade, and U.S. cattlemen regained access to a market worth more than $86 million in U.S. sales, with a total economic impact in excess of $400 million.

I look forward to hearing positive news resulting from future negotiations between Ambassador Kirk and Japan, and look forward to the day when this important market is fully re-opened to American beef products.

No comments: