The US department of agriculture has announced that it will know next week whether Japan is satisfied with the new steps taken to prevent mad cow disease in US beef exports. A positive outcome would go some way to ensure the smooth flow of US beef to Japan after a 1 September 2003 deadline imposed by Tokyo for the implementation of tougher measures.
It would also allow the United States to lift an 11-week-old import ban on Canadian beef products.
Japan, the biggest buyer of US beef, wants the United States to guarantee that no US beef shipments contain Canadian meat. Canada discovered a case of mad cow disease in a cow in Alberta on 20 May 2003 leading dozens of countries to ban its cattle and beef.
A Japanese technical team arrived in the United States this week to visit meatpacking plants in Minnesota that already certify their beef as all-American.
Canada is also awaiting an agreement between the United States and Japan. The United States has indicated that it will first reach a compromise with Japan before it begins to consider easing its trade ban on Canadian beef. The brain-wasting illness, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, has been linked to the deaths of more than 100 people in Europe.