U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that longstanding restrictions have been eliminated on U.S. beef exports to Japan. The new agreement, which takes effect immediately, allows U.S. beef products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003.
USDA estimates this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually. The agreement also is an important step in aligning Japan’s import rules with international, science-based standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Perdue hopes Japan’s decision to allow access to beef from all ages of cattle will lead other markets around the world to embrace the same science-driven policies.
Japan banned U.S. beef imports following the December 2003 detection of a BSE-positive animal in the U.S. Two years later, Japan restored partial access by allowing U.S. beef from cattle 20 months and younger. In February 2013, Japan extended access to include U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months old.
Despite the widening tariff disadvantage the U.S. faces in Japan compared to beef competitors around the world, it continues to be the top international market for U.S. beef. During 2018, the value of U.S. beef sold to Japan reached $2.08 billion.