WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced May 17 that the US and Japan have struck a deal on new stipulations to take the place of Japan’s longstanding restrictions of US beef imports. These new terms and conditions will become effective immediately.

The USDA estimates the agreement will expand US sales of beef and beef products in Japan, which is one of the top global beef markets, by up to $200 million annually.

The terms of the new agreement will be posted May 20 to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Export Verification Program web page.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with Japanese government officials in the days leading up to the G-20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in Niigata, Japan to discuss the importance of science-based trade rules between the two countries.

“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious US beef,” said US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

The agency also stated this trade agreement is “an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan further aligns its import requirements with international standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).”

The new trade agreement comes at the heels of more than a decade of trade restrictions on beef products between the US and Japan.

In December 2003, Japan banned US beef products after a BSE-positive animal was detected in the US. Japan allowed partial access for US beef muscle cuts and offal items from cattle 20 months old or younger in December 2005. Then, in February 2013, Japan expanded access to include beef products from cattle no older than 30 months of age.

Japan eliminated age-based testing for BSE on domestic Japanese cattle in April 2017, opening the door for age-based restrictions to be lifted for trading partners with a low risk of BSE, including the US.

Finally, on January 15, 2019, Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) determined beef at any age from the US, Canada and Ireland would not jeopardize public health and began to consult with the US to revise import requirements that align with the BSE guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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