Japan is likely to keep its border closed to imports of US beef for the rest of the year, according to US meat industry officials.

The two countries have not yet reached an agreement on the level of BSE testing required. While the US believes its current testing rate is sufficient, Japan is calling for the US to introduce testing of 100% of its slaughtered cattle before any US beef can be sold in Japan.

"As I heard yesterday, there is not going to be any change in the Japanese (beef) markets now until after the first of the year," Larry Pope, president and chief operating officer of US meat processor Smithfield Foods, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Once the main destination for US beef exports, Japan closed its borders to US beef in December following the discovery of a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, in Washington state.