Where's the beef?
Speaking to a crowd of farmers in a barn, Barack Obama cited the Japanese not selling American beef as an example of how current trade policies have hurt rural communities.
“You can’t get American beef into Japan…even though we have the highest safety standards. They don’t want the competition,” he said in response to a question about trade and manufacturing jobs moving to China.
But Japan lifted its ban on American beef almost a year ago in June. The country had banned imports in 2003 after an outbreak of mad-cow disease. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Denver, the U.S. currently exports over 5,000 tons of beef per month to Japan, down from 20,000 tones before the 2003 ban when Japan was the No. 1 importer of American beef.
But the problem is not, as Obama said, that the Japanese refuse to import American beef. Rather, it is that American beef now faces stiffer competition with Australian beef, which is cheaper and has made major inroads in the market in recent years.