Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner has announced that the Philippines has fully complied with international trade standards regarding beef and beef products by allowing complete market access for U.S. beef and beef products of all ages.

"I applaud Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap for making a decision that is based on sound science and in line with international guidelines," Conner said. "The Philippines has set the standard for other Asian nations, and we will continue to press for full market access throughout the Pacific Rim."

In May 2007, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) formally classified the United States as a controlled risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This status confirms that U.S. BSE regulatory controls are effective and that U.S. beef and beef products of all ages can be safely traded.

Recent bilateral discussions between USDA and the Philippines' Department of Agriculture resulted in this market expansion and an agreement to allow for U.S. beef and beef products of all ages. Previously, imports of U.S. beef and beef products were restricted to boneless beef and offals from cattle less than 30 months of age.

The United States exported $4.9 million of beef and beef products to the Philippines in 2003. That market was closed when BSE was detected in the United States in an imported cow from Canada in December 2003. U.S. beef exports to the Philippines reached $6.3 million in 2006 when partial market access was achieved. Under this new agreement, USDA estimates that U.S. beef exports to the Philippines could potentially double in 2008.

More than 100 countries now allow the entry of at least some U.S. beef and beef products. This is a result of intensive efforts by USDA to regain market access for U.S. beef and beef products.