Japan has granted the US' request to extend its 1 July 2003 deadline for implementing its new beef import regulations.
Following the discovery of a single case of BSE in Canada, Japan wanted to put in place measures that would ensure any beef imported into the country could not have originated from Canada. The country therefore requested that all exporting nations implement a tracking and certification system - a country of origin certification - to guarantee this.
The deadline for this was originally going to be today. However, US agriculture secretary Anne Veneman asked for a postponement of that deadline and the Japanese authorities have now agreed to extend the deadline to September 2003.
The United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA ) believes that the extension will give US officials more time to evaluate reports on the BSE case in Canada before deciding whether to resume beef and cattle trade with Canada.
Other beef exporting nations such as Australia are watching the Japanese market closely. Australia's quarantine authority is yet to reach an agreement with Japan on the issue of certification.