"I'm very pleased to announce that the Japanese market is now open to U.S. beef products. Resuming beef trade with Japan is great news for American producers and Japanese consumers, as well as an important step toward normalized trade based on scientifically sound, internationally recognized standards.
"Reopening the Japanese market to U.S. beef has been a top priority for me since becoming Secretary, and I want to thank the many people and organizations who have been instrumental in this success. First and foremost, my thanks to President Bush for being personally and directly engaged in this effort. I want to thank my colleagues in the President's cabinet, Secretaries Rice, Snow, Gutierrez and Ambassador Portman, as well as Ambassadors Baker and Schieffer, for making this issue a centerpiece of their discussions with Japan. I also extend my thanks to Chairmen Goodlatte and Chambliss, the entire American meat industry, and all of the USDA staff involved with the many meetings, site visits, reports and other consultations with Japan's food safety officials to confirm the safety of U.S. beef.
"Japan's action today sets an excellent example for other countries in Asia whose markets remain closed. Now is the time for Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and others to open their markets to U.S. beef. I urge all countries to take a science-based approach and adopt OIE standards for allowing beef trade. Building bridges of understanding and collaboration between nations is an important part of ensuring food safety. American producers are proud of our safe, high-quality beef products and we greatly value the opportunity to promote the safety of our products to consumers in Japan and around the world. As I have said many times throughout this process, our goal is the resumption of normal beef trade throughout the world and we will continue to aggressively work toward that objective."
Under the agreement announced today, the United States is able to export beef from cattle 20 months of age and younger to Japan. More than 94 percent of total U.S. ruminant and ruminant products, with a total export value of $1.7 billion in 2003, are now eligible for export to Japan. In 2003, the United States exported $1.4 billion worth of beef and beef products to Japan. Prior to the December 2003 discovery of the first BSE-infected cow in the United States, the U.S. exported beef and beef products to 119 countries. With the opening of Japan, 67countries have now established trade to at least selected U.S. beef and beef products.