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New Zealand beef competing in Japan

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SASH

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New Zealand hopes beef safeguard tariff not imposed



Cameron McLauchlan / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Japanese authorities must carefully think through the pros and cons of levying a beef safeguard tariff should the volume trigger be reached when U.S. beef exports to this country resume, New Zealand Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said Monday.

"We don't contest the right of Japanese authorities to invoke the safeguard," he said. "But we would be disappointed if that return were to trigger the special safeguard measure because of the increase percentage-wise that represented over this year."

"To impose it in these unusual circumstances, which are so different to the original purpose for which the safeguards were intended, would simply add further costs for consumers and the already hard-hit food service industry," he said at a press conference at a Tokyo hotel.

Under World Trade Organization rules, the government can impose an emergency tariff increase if there is a year-on-year increase of more than 17 percent in beef imports on a cumulative quarterly basis.

New Zealand beef exports to Japan rose 86 percent in 2004 to about 35,000 tons, mostly to make up for the shortfall created by the ban on U.S. beef imposed after the first case of mad cow disease was found there.

Japanese consumers hankering for a cut of beef but anxious because of recent fears over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in this country and the United States should look to New Zealand beef as a source of quality, safe meat, Sutton said.

"New Zealand has some of the world's most rigorous safety systems for beef and sheep meat," he said.

Sutton, who also is the New Zealand biosecurity and trade negotiations minister, outlined an individualized livestock identification scheme Wellington is considering introducing to provide even greater assurances as to the safety of its beef. The proposed scheme would see every farm animal in New Zealand given a number for traceability and miniaturized DNA testing facilities at the point of sale.
 
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