May 17, 2019 / 1:24 PM / 8 days ago

Japan opens doors to full access of U.S. beef imports: USDA

A chef slices a raw beef liver at a restaurant in Tokyo June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan has agreed to eliminate its long-held restrictions on American beef imports, opening full access to U.S. cattle products after more than 15 years, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Friday.

“The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in the statement.

The agreement reopens full beef trade after Japan banned U.S. beef over concerns about mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that roiled the beef industry in the United States and elsewhere.

The “expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually,” according to the USDA.

The agreement came alongside the Group of 20 agricultural meeting last week in Japan, USDA officials said.

U.S. and Japanese officials are seeking to hammer out a wider trade deal that the Trump administration has said could come later this month.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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