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Japan's beef exports to China possibly to resume next year

A Japanese meat dealer examines Japanese cattle carcasses at a Kobe beef auction, operated by Kobe Chuo Chikusan Niuke Ltd, at the Western Kobe Wholesale market on Jan. 10, 2017, in Kobe, Japan. (Getty/Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan is in the final stage of talks with China to resume exports of Japanese beef to the world's most populous market for the first time in about two decades, government sources said Thursday.

    Japan is hoping to resume its exports next year, the sources said. Beijing has banned beef imports from Japan since the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, was detected in the country in 2001.

    Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are expected to sign a pact on animal health and quarantine, serving as a precondition for the resumption, during a meeting that is likely to take place on Monday.

    Wang is scheduled to visit Japan for a two-day meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Nagoya from Friday.

    In China, beef consumption has been on the rise, especially among high-income households.

    In recent years, Japanese "wagyu" beef, known for its tenderness and marbled fat, has been gaining popularity overseas. Its overall beef exports increased to 24.7 billion yen in 2018, up from 3.4 billion yen ($31 million) in 2010.

    Japan and China broadly agreed during their high-level economic dialogue in April on the quarantine pact, paving the way for Beijing's lifting of the prolonged ban.

    The course set for the resumption is seen as a sign of improving ties between the world's second- and third-largest economies, whose ties were chilly until several years ago over wartime and territorial issues.

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