March 16,2010

Baucus Presses Japan to Remove Trade Barriers to U.S. Beef

Finance Committee Chairman Urges Japanese Ambassador to Provide Access for Beef of All Ages

Washington, DC – Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today strongly urged the Japanese government to remove scientifically unfounded barriers to U.S. beef.  In a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Baucus also pushed for an end to the preferential treatment that Japan Post, which is owned by the Japanese government, has received in Japan’s insurance, banking and express delivery markets at the expense of private sector competitors in those industries.

“The meat that Japan is banning is the same safe, delicious Montana beef we enjoy here at home.  The facts on the safety of U.S. beef are clear: U.S. beef meets international scientific safety standards and there is no legitimate reason for Japan to restrict it,” Baucus said.  “Japan’s unfounded and unscientific barrier is unfairly impeding U.S. beef exports and hurting hardworking Montana ranchers.  Increasing exports of U.S. goods and services, including agricultural commodities, is an essential part of our strategy to create jobs and promote growth.”

Baucus has long fought for a robust trade agenda that opens new markets to American ranchers, farmers and small businesses and enforces our current trade agreements.  The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized that U.S. beef derived from cattle of all ages is safe.

The text of the letter Chairman Baucus, along with Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), sent to the Japanese Ambassador follows.  The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over international trade.


March 16, 2010

Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008

 Dear Ambassador Fujisaki:

We are writing with regard to certain long-standing barriers imposed by Japan to imports of U.S. goods and services. 

Japan continues to place restrictions on imports of U.S. beef due to alleged concerns about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that are scientifically unwarranted.  The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) determined in 2007 that U.S. beef derived from cattle of all ages is safe due to safeguards undertaken by the United States.  Moreover, millions of Americans consume U.S. beef from cattle of all ages every day, so the safety of this product cannot seriously be in doubt.  Yet Japan still limits imports of U.S. beef to beef from animals aged twenty months or younger.  This scientifically unfounded barrier to imports of U.S. beef is causing economic hardship for cattle and beef producers in Montana and Iowa.  We urge Japan to base its beef trade policies on science and to open its market to all U.S. beef.    

Also citing BSE concerns, Japan has prohibited imports of U.S.-produced bovine-origin gelatin for human consumption since 2004.  Japan’s policy is at direct odds with OIE recommendations, which provide that this U.S. product can be traded safely.  The Japanese ban on imports of this bovine product is negatively impacting Montana and Iowa cattle producers, and it has led to job losses in Iowa’s gelatin manufacturing sector.  We urge Japan to lift its scientifically unjustified prohibition on imports of U.S.-produced bovine-origin gelatin for human consumption. 

Finally, we understand that Japan is in the final stages of drafting legislation on Japan Post to submit to the Diet.  We have long been concerned about the preferential treatment that Japan Post entities have received in Japan’s insurance, banking, and express delivery markets and the negative impact of that treatment on Japan Post’s private sector competitors.  We urge Japan to address these concerns in its legislation so that U.S. and other private sector suppliers receive the equal treatment that Japan’s international obligations require.

We look forward to improved economic relations between the United States and Japan once these serious trade concerns are resolved.


              Max Baucus                                                                            Charles E. Grassley

            Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member