December 22, 2019 / 12:36 PM / a month ago

China lifts ban on some Japanese beef imports amid meat shortages

FILE PHOTO: Beef for sale is seen at a Walmart in Beijing, China, September 23, 2019. Picture taken September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has lifted a ban on deboned beef from Japanese cows under 30 months old, the General Administration of Customs said in a notice, ending an almost two-decade long restriction on beef imports from the country.

The decision comes as China faces severe meat shortages after an outbreak of the African swine fever disease decimated the country’s massive pig herd, sending pork prices to record levels.

In the December 19 notice, the customs and agriculture ministries said they had decided to lift the ban on some Japanese beef after carrying out risk assessments, but inspection and quarantine requirements would be decided separately.

China has banned beef imports from Japan since an outbreak of mad-cow disease in 2001.

In a separate notice, also dated December 19, the ministries said China would also allow some imports of Japanese pork products.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in November said the two countries had signed a bilateral animal health and quarantine agreement, a key step toward the resumption of Japanese beef exports to China.

China’s decision will be welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as it looks to agricultural products for drive new economic growth.

Reporting by Yilei Sun, Yingzhi Yang, Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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