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EU urges Japan to drop beef import ban
[TOKYO] The European Union's (EU) top agriculture official Friday urged Japan to open up its market for beef from the whole bloc, saying Europe expected "reciprocity" for importing Japan's famous Wagyu and Kobe beef.
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan told reporters that "only a small number of countries" in the EU had gained access to the Japanese market for beef products despite BSE - commonly called mad cow disease - having been eliminated since 2005.
"We are intensively working to convince Japan that we have reached the necessary levels of technical and operational criteria to be granted access for the entirety of the European Union as a single entity," Mr Hogan said on a visit to Japan.
The fact the EU allows access for wagyu and kobe beef is "an indication of our goodwill" in this area, he noted.
"The EU expects to see reciprocity once the criteria are fulfilled and we believe there is... full compliance with what is demanded of us from the Japanese side," Mr Hogan stressed.
From 1996, Japan banned beef imports from Britain, citing fears of BSE infection, and it extended the ban to ban all EU-produced beef products in 2000.
But as governments began to control the disease, Japan has selectively reopened to Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.
However, the 19 other nations in the 28-member bloc, including major economies such as Germany and Spain, remain affected by the ban.
Turning to US trade policy, Mr Hogan said the recently implemented free-trade deal between Japan and the EU was the "envy of the world" and could serve as a template for a potential EU-US accord.
The commissioner said US President Donald Trump "probably regrets" pulling out of the enormous Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal at the beginning of his presidency.
And he said he hoped the US and China could strike a deal to bring down tariffs and ease their trade war, stressing: "The politics of cooperation rather than confrontation is always better in the medium and the long term when it comes to trade."
On Britain's exit from the European Union, Mr Hogan said officials in Brussels had watched events in the British parliament "sometimes with disbelief", as Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly failed to secure backing for her Brexit deal.
"We in the EU are waiting patiently for the UK Parliament to make its decision and unfortunately we cannot make progress until that happens," said Hogan.