Danes asking for exemption from ban; positive feeling' in Copenhagen Bacon and pork traders are at the mercy of the Japanese authorities, whose imminent decision on whether to permit imports from Denmark is expected to prove the crucial influence on prices in the UK and much of the international market over the next few weeks. When FMD was found in Britain more than a month ago Japan reacted immediately by banning product from this country, but surprised traders by quickly making clear it would allow shipments to continue from most other EU suppliers. The most significant effect of this tolerant response was to prevent the immediate overloading of the EU domestic market with huge quantities of Danish pigmeat originally intended for Japanese customers. Bans announced by the US and Canada attracted most attention, but potential shutdown of the 200,000 tonne annual trade between Denmark and Japan was a much more serious threat to pigmeat market stability in Europe (The Grocer, March 17, page 27). However, reprieve for the Danes did not last long. By March 23 it became clear the Japanese were to prohibit most if not all meat imports from the entire EU. The Danes are asking for exemption from the ban, citing their FMD-free status and rigorous system of livestock hygiene and meat safety control. In the past few days officials from Japan have been in Denmark, inspecting production facilities and studying the anti-FMD safeguards put in place by the government and processors. As The Grocer went to press reports from the Danish industry and officials in Copenhagen were of "a positive feeling" ahead of a decision from the Japanese, expected early next week. But there were signs of less confidence in regaining full access to the US market. Although the Americans buy much less pork from the Danes than is purchased by the Japanese, the tonnages are big enough to cause price disturbance in the EU if the ban persists. Meanwhile, the British market remained in confusion due to the suspension of deliveries from the Netherlands. Gossip among traders gathered in London for the IFE was of killing and deliveries likely to resume "within days" but there had been no official confirmation from the Dutch as The Grocer went to press. {{M/E MEAT }}