Officials from the Japanese and US governments have expressed optimism that the beef trade row between the two countries can be resolved by the end of the summer.

Chikao Kawai, chief economy official at the Japanese embassy in the US, said he is confident of the two sides reaching an agreement amicably and quickly, reported OsterDowJones.

Japan banned imports of US beef back in December following the detection of a case of BSE in a cow in Washington state. It has refused to lift its ban, insisting the US introduces 100% testing for BSE.

This week the two countries held the first of a series of bilateral meetings on the BSE issue in Tokyo.

The US Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for farm and foreign agriculture services, J.B. Penn, said he is confident an agreement would be reached soon, and said US exports to Japan could resume by the end of the summer.