Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quick Japan beef mart reopening needed to avoid sanctions: Johanns

Quick Japan beef mart reopening needed to avoid sanctions: Johanns Mar. 10--WASHINGTON -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns stressed the need Thursday to swiftly reopen Japan's market to American beef to prevent U.S. lawmakers from resorting to economic sanctions.

Speaking to reporters after a congressional hearing, Johanns said, "My hope is that we can get back on track very, very quickly because I don't want to go down the road of retaliation." Johanns said some lawmakers have asked him if the reimposed ban on U.S. beef due to a single ineligible shipment "mean that we go out and inspect every single Japanese car when we find a defect." "That demonstrates to me the level of frustration," Johanns said.

Testifying before the agriculture subcommittee under the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Johanns said the ineligible veal shipment was "unacceptable" but it stemmed from "confusion on both sides" over agreed export requirements.

"I don't really see any reason for an extensive delay" for Japan to resume imports, Johanns said, noting that his department has compiled an investigation report, vowed to take corrective measures and responded to Tokyo's requests for additional information.

Japan reinstated the import ban on Jan. 20 after a spinal column, prohibited under a bilateral accord due to the risk of mad cow disease, was discovered in a veal shipment at Narita airport.

The incident came only one month after Tokyo lifted its original two-year-old ban on the condition that imports would be limited to meat from cattle aged up to 20 months with brains, spinal cords and other risk materials removed before shipment.



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