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Japan 'not ready to open food market'

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Tommy

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Japan 'not ready to open food market'

BYLINE: By DAVID PILLING

DATELINE: TOKYO

BODY:


Japan has no intention of moving quickly to open up its market to foreign food imports in spite of hints from Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister, that Tokyo is considering important concessions in the interests of global free trade, the agriculture ministry says.

This month Mr Koizumi moved Shoichi Nakagawa from his position as trade minister to head the agriculture ministry, in what Toshihiro Nikai, his replacement at trade, said was a clear signal that the prime minister wanted the two ministries to work together in the interests of free trade.

In the past, trade ministry efforts to open up foreign markets for Japanese industrial goods have been undermined by infighting with the agriculture ministry, which sees its mission as protecting Japanese farmers and national food security.

Kenichi Ito, director-general for international affairs at the agriculture ministry, said the trade ministry continued to take an "unrealistic" position on free trade. Mr Nakagawa's move to agriculture did not herald any Trojan horse policy by which trade ministry policies on trade liberalisation were being smuggled into the more conservative agriculture ministry, he said.

Mr Ito said that Mr Nakagawa, who represents an agricultural constituency, had very little room for manoeuvre. If he made big concessions at next month's World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong, he would need to come back to Japan and explain what he had done to the country's hard-pressed farmers, he said.

"Even Nakagawa can't change our position further," he said. "There are not many things he can do."

Mr Ito said US and Brazilian proposals on lowering agricultural tariffs were a non-starter. "If we accepted the US proposal, we would be deluged with foreign products and Japanese farmers would be wiped out.

"We are not saying we can't do anything more, but as long as the US or Brazil stick to their unrealistic demands, we can't start realistic talks."

The agriculture ministry says Japan is the world's biggest net importer of farm products with average tariffs lower than those in Europe. But it continues to protect sensitive areas such as rice, where tariffs are 700 per cent.

Trade ministry officials said there might be more room for manoeuvre than the farm ministry let on. "They can't say much for fear of giving their hand away in negotiations," said one. Of Mr Koizumi's apparent warming to the theme of trade liberalisation, the official said: "I've never thought he was an ardent believer in free trade, but he does think Japan has to be engaged."
 

Tommy

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JPN Trade Min raps US on beef



Japan's new trade minister raps US over beef

Today Online

Tuesday • November 15, 2005



New Japanese Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai accused Washington of using a high-handed manner in pushing Tokyo to lift its ban on US beef.



Nikai, appointed in late October, held a meeting with US Trade Representative Rob Portman on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.



"I told the US side, 'Don't make a great fuss just because we don't import your beef'," Nikai told journalists after the meeting.



Japan barred imports of US beef in December 2003 and of Canadian beef in May 2003 after cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, were discovered in the two countries.



Nikai in particular criticized US farm-state senators for threatening sanctions of 3.1 billion dollars -- the amount the US beef industry says it has lost in sales to Japan since 2004 -- unless Tokyo lifts its ban by the end of the year.



"I told the US side, 'We are making an effort toward a decision (on lifting the ban), so please don't rush us'," Nikai said Tuesday.



"(US) beef will be accepted by the Japanese on condition that consumers are willing to buy and eat it," he said. "It's wrong to drive in their idea through an aggressive negotiation."



Japan, formerly the biggest importer of US beef, has come under intense pressure from its closest ally.



In a major step towards ending the bitter trade dispute, a Japanese health panel in October said there were few risks from young US and Canadian cattle if dangerous parts were removed from their bodies after slaughter.



But the Consumers Union of Japan has called for labels on all beef to allow Japanese shoppers to avoid US and Canadian beef if they so wish.



How are they going to differenciate between US and Canadian beef?
 

Murgen

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In a major step towards ending the bitter trade dispute, a Japanese health panel in October said there were few risks from young US and Canadian cattle if dangerous parts were removed from their bodies after slaughter.



How are they going to differenciate between US and Canadian beef?

I don't think they care, they view beef from both nations as the same risk, and of little risk if under 20 months!

Maybe they'll label it "North American"
 

Tommy

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STAFF...Easy, with the ScoringAg traceback system from field to fork.

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STAFF

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Yes Tommy,matter of fact we are working with 10+ states and some have commented that our system is easy to run plus it gives real time data with 3rd world costs.The best part is that each sector has it's own soft management system built into the database for verification proof and cross border requirements.
 

STAFF

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