A special team of U.S. Department of Agriculture negotiators have returned from a two-week tour of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Acting Ag Secretary Chuck Conner says their mission was to continue work with Japan and Korea on opening their markets to U.S. beef and also reach out to the other countries in an attempt to get them to move more quickly to accept international standards for beef trade.
"Some of what they report is that there has been some progress made in those countries with some expression of interest in moving toward international standards," Conner says. "But a lot more needs to be done; we're frustrated and it's time to get this issue behind us."
The Japanese Prime Minister is scheduled to come to Washington in mid-November to meet with President Bush, and Conner says Bush will press the prime minister on opening the Japanese markets.
"He expects our beef producers in the United States to be able to trade beef internationally according to international, science-based standards," says Conner. "The President has been personally involved in making this case; we appreciate his personal involvement and I am certain this issue will be underscored again with the Japanese."