As Japan continues to appear as if it is dragging its feet in making a decision on reopening its border to U.S. beef, some within the beef industry and Congress are wondering what exactly the Bush Administration has been doing in regard to the matter. And it is not like U.S.D.A. and U.S. trade officials haven't been asked on a near daily basis since the December 2003 Japanese ban on U.S. beef what the latest news is. But at a recent Congressional hearing on the matter, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler again reiterated the Administration's dedication in resolving the matter.
CUTLER: The Administration shares your frustration over Japan's glacial speed at reopening its market. We have repeatedly and consistently engaged Japan on all levels on this issue. Ambassador Portman has devoted considerable time on this problem.
That includes Portman's discussions with Japanese officials soon after reports from its Food Safety Commission said it would need more time to consider border reopening. That tact, coupled with threat of sanctions by Congress may have been instrumental in a Japanese Food Safety Commission panel draft recommendation to reopen the border to U.S. beef from cows twenty one months and younger. Yet some members of Congress wonder what U.S.D.A. and the Administration was trying to accomplish earlier when it issued a proposed rule allowing a U.S. ban on Japanese boneless beef to be lifted. That prompted the U.S. Senate to adopt an amendment to the 2006 Ag Appropriations bill keeping their beef out until our beef comes in. Giving his best estimate on the U.S.D.A. strategy is Kansas Representative Jerry Moran.
MORAN: U.S.D.A. wants United States trade regimen operate base upon sound science, abide by the rules, so that Japan has no opportunity to claim that we're not doing something we should be doing. I've explained this at home that my guess is U.S.D.A. was trying to provide a carrot to Japan but what I would suggest that we need is a stick, not a carrot.
However, others such as Congressman Doc Hastings of Washington says with the beef issue connected with so many other trade matters between the U.S. and Japan, diplomacy, and diplomatic pressure, may be the best route in getting Japan to reopen its border to U.S. beef.
HASTINGS: I along with one-hundred of my other colleagues sent a letter to the President trying to put this at a very high level for his attention and to take up with the Japanese government. It's a huge market for us. It's been a good market for us. It's been a good market for us. And there's no reason it should be closed.