Japan and U.S. negotiators ended three days of beef-trade talks today. Japan approved a U.S. report of safety audits on 35 U.S. meatpacking facilities certified for beef export to Japan, a step expected to pave the way for Japan to decide as early as next month to lift its ban on U.S. beef imports.
Actual resumption of trade will come only after Japan inspects the 35 U.S. facilities certified for export and finds no problems, the Kyodo News reports. Trade could resume in July, though no final agreement on conditions for resuming beef trade have thus far been reached.
Chuck Lambert, acting USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and head of the U.S. delegation, said the U.S. will accept inspections by Japanese officials and hoped the 35 plants will be ready to ship beef by the end of June, after the checks. -- Joe Roybal