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JAPAN RE-OPENS MARKET TO BEEF FROM FRANCE AND THE NETHERLANDS
The European Union welcomes the lifting of the Japanese ban on imports of beef and beef products, as a first step, from two EU Member States, France and the Netherlands, from 1 February 2013.
This is a very positive development, although it took longer to achieve than anticipated. The decision by Japan is an encouraging signal for the other EU Member States who wish to export beef to Japan, and whose equally high level of food safety has been internationally recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The European Union is looking forward to seeing this reflected, by Japan also opening its market to other EU Member States.
The decision by Japan also sends an important signal to other EU trade partners in the Far East, Asian and neighbouring markets and indeed throughout the world, that EU beef is safe, and that imports of EU beef should resume quickly.
The European Union also welcomes the fact that Japan has communicated its findings in clear terms to its citizens and consumers. This confirms the importance and provides a welcome example of responsible communication about the real risks associated with trade in food.
Japan introduced an import ban on beef from the EU in 2001, citing a risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This measure went beyond the international standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and did not take into account the stringent control and surveillance measures in place in the European Union guaranteeing the safety of European beef and beef products.
Since the introduction of the ban, the European Commission has regularly raised the issue with Japan in all available fora and bilateral meetings, at technical and at political level.
As a result, Japan has thoroughly reviewed the measures in place in the EU and now recognises that the scientific facts confirm the safe nature of beef from the EU. France and the Netherlands, which had submitted their applications to export to Japan, will be the first EU Member States to see the Japanese market opened up for beef under 30 months of age. The authorisation process is underway for other Member States, which have also shown an interest to export to Japan. The EU has harmonised conditions for food safety across the EU and so Japan should soon also open its market to other EU Member States.
Between 2007 and 2011 EU exports of beef increased considerably (by 302% in volume) and reached 293,207 tonnes in 2011. The main export markets for beef are currently Turkey, Russia and Switzerland. Japan is an interesting market for beef as imports cover about half of total Japanese beef consumption.
DG Trade units D.3, C.1, G.3 and the EU Delegation in Tokyo
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