EU states sweat on Japanese beef trade approval

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Japan has expressed an interest in expanding its intake of European beef
Japan has expressed an interest in expanding its intake of European beef

Related tags Eu member states European union Japan Beef

Seven EU member states are eagerly awaiting approval from Japan to increase its imports of European beef, following its recent restoration of trade with Italy.

A spokeswoman at the European Commission has confirmed a string of countries have outstanding applications with Japan to strike up a beef exporting relationship with one of Asia’s strongest economies.

The seven EU member states that have registered an interested in jumping into a bilateral, beef-based relationship with Japan are: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, the UK, Lithuania and Croatia.

Applications are processed by Japanese government health and veterinary officials. Minna Jalili, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said Europe was in the dark over how long it would take for Japan to grant market access to the seven states and an “estimate of how long it might take to access the market​” could not be made.


Currently eight EU countries have the necessary permits in place to export beef to Japan: Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and, most recently, Italy.

Earlier in May, Italy won access to the Japanese market after health officials successfully convinced Japan its livestock industry was free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This has been a long-running and often irritating thorn in the side of European beef producers that have aspirations of trading with Japan.

A ban on beef exports from Europe – apart from Hungary which never lost access to the market – was lifted by Japan in 2013. Exports from member states that were able to supply Japan with beef were not worth much – €4.7m (£3.6m) in 2015, according to EC data. 

European Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis, Cecilia Malmström and Phil Hogan published the following statement on Japan’s decision to lift a beef ban on Italy: “The fact that Japan continues to approve beef exports from EU member states is a great success of the European trade diplomacy. All Commission services, together with the EU Delegation to Japan, have been working towards opening of the Japanese market for EU beef and beef products from all EU countries interested in exports. We look forward to seeing Japan opening its market to beef from the rest of the EU in the near future.​”

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