Foreign Gov't Responses to U.S. Discovery of Fourth BSE Case

April 25, 2012 01:54 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Limited trade backlash expected from U.S. BSE announcement

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Following is a recap of the responses to the U.S. finding its fourth case of BSE, the first in six years, in a dairy cow in central California:

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, "The beef and dairy in the American food supply is safe and USDA remains confident in the health of U.S. cattle. The systems and safeguards in place to protect animal and human health worked as planned to identify this case quickly, and will ensure that it presents no risk to the food supply or to human health. USDA has no reason to believe that any other U.S. animals are currently affected, but we will remain vigilant and committed to the safeguards in place."

CANADA: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said that The U.S. and Canada have implemented science-based measures to protect animal and human health. The agency also noted that U.S. officials have confirmed that no part of this animal's carcass entered the food system.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president Dennis Laycraft said there was no reason to for any country to ban U.S. beef as rules for market access are science based.

MEXICO: Mexico will keep its current level of inspections of U.S. beef and there have been no imports from central California where the U.S. case was discovered. "Cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) occur occasionally," Mexico's agriculture ministry said in a statement. "These cases have appeared in different places around the world and don't affect trade between countries."

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea mulled whether to halt inspections of U.S. beef, a move that would essentially have halted imports of U.S. beef. The country will, however, increase quarantine checks of U.S. beef and may take other emergency measures, the country’s Ag Ministry said.  "At present, Seoul has not taken steps to halt customs clearance of imported U.S. beef," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a Ministry spokesperson as saying.

However, South Korea's second and third largest supermarket chains -- Home Plus and Lotte Mart – announced they will temporarily halt sales of U.S. beef. "We stopped sales from today," said Chung Won-hun, a Lotte Mart spokesman. "Not that there were any quality issues in the meat but because consumers were worried."

As for inspections, an official in the quarantine policy division told AP, "We are still reviewing whether we will stop quarantine inspections."

JAPAN: No shift in beef trade policy with the U.S. "There is no need for change," in Japan's import rules, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on April 30 via a previously scheduled visit.

Note: Japan has been working on a rule that would allow beef from U.S. and Canadian cattle aged 30 months or younger to be imported to the country rather than the current limit of 20 months or younger as was imposed in 2005 over fears of BSE. Thus far there has been no indication the recent incident will cause the country to drag its heels on finalizing the new rule (appropriately), but it will be important to monitor how the media reacts to the recent BSE event as Japan often reacts to what its citizens say. If the issue does escalate, a visit by a Japanese leader April 30 will be a good time to discuss the issue.

RUSSIA: According to Reuters, Russia could consider temporary restrictions on U.S. meat exports in response to the mad cow case and has requested more information from U.S. authorities on the outbreak and the response, an official said.

VIETNAM: No shift in policy on imports of U.S. beef. Country reopened market to U.S. beef in September 2011 after halting imports in 2003 after the first U.S. case of BSE.   

TAIWAN: Officials said they are monitoring the situation and President Ma Ying-jeou has been informed of the case and he has directed the Council of Agriculture and the Department of Health to "handle the issue in a professional manner," a government spokesman said.

Cabinet spokesman Philip Yang said the government is taking the case seriously and has stepped up border controls to prevent barred U.S. beef products from entering Taiwan. Yang noted that the positive test was an isolated case. Taiwan will still use its preventive "three controls, five checkpoints" measures for monitoring imports of U.S. beef.

Yang said that they are still gathering information and that will determine if additional actions may be taken.

CHINA: No response seen as of yet.

SINGAPORE: Food regulation officials said their import requirements were "sufficiently robust" to protect against contamination and no further action was planned.

EUROPEAN UNION: "The (European) Commission is satisfied that the new BSE case has been confirmed in the framework of the ongoing BSE surveillance system in the United States, which prevented this animal from entering the food chain," Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent said in a statement.

AUSTRALIA: The country’s Ag Ministry is monitoring the situation and noted in a statement that Australia "does not import beef or beef products from cattle of U.S. origin.

Australia’s cattle industry, however, is eyeing the situation to see whether or not it will bolster their trade opportunities. "We need to see how this affects the Korean and Japanese markets," David Byard, executive officer of the Australian Beef Association, told Bloomberg News. "It all depends on how the Japanese and the Koreans take this."


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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