Australian beef exports declined 6% in February despite a sharp increase in exports to Japan, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

Exports of Australian beef and veal to Japan rose 47% in February compared to the same month of the previous year. Australian exports to Japan have been boosted by Japan's suspension of imports of beef from the US and Canada due to BSE concerns.

MLA said bans on imports of US beef had led to high supplies of domestic beef on the US market, which in turn led to a 24% decline in Australian beef exports to the US in February. Exports of chilled beef fell 60% to 713 tonnes compared to February 2003, reported Reuters.