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Senators urge sanctions on Japan over beef ban dispute.

Twenty-one bipartisan U.S. Senators sent a letter Friday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman urging him to impose economic sanctions on Japan worth some $100 million a month for the country's continuing ban on U.S. beef imports.

The increased Senate pressure came a day after Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns warned Japan that Congress has already lost patience and is poised to take retaliatory action if Japan fails to lift the 22-month-old ban in December.

Japan was the biggest customer of U.S. beef before the ban was imposed in December 2003, when the U.S. discovered its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"On behalf of the farmers, ranchers and communities that comprise the American beef industry, we respectfully ask you to employ economic sanctions on the import of Japanese goods into the United States at a level comparable to the losses incurred by the beef industry," the Senators said in the letter.

The letter referenced the fact that the U.S. beef industry is losing $100 million each month because of the Japanese ban, saying, "We look forward to your prompt response."

"It is now clear that Japan is simply using this issue to maintain an unwarranted and unjustified trade barrier," the Senators said. "We regret that negotiations have deteriorated to the point where we must make this request."

The Japanese government "must understand that the American beef industry and government cannot continue to stand idly by, while Japan builds road block after road block to U.S. beef," the Senators said.

Sen. Wayne Allard, who has been a leading figure in the Senate in pressing Japan but without going as far as actually imposing sanctions, said, "I have been very reluctant to go the route of retaliation, but we have been talking to Japan for nearly a year, and still the Japanese continue to ban imports of our beef." He and the 20 other senators wrote the letter "because we are now convinced that only retaliatory measures will bring the Japanese around," Allard, a Republican from Colorado, said in a prepared statement.
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Title Annotation:News Notes
Comment:Senators urge sanctions on Japan over beef ban dispute.(News Notes)
Author:Beck, Saul
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:348
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