Mexico has eased its ban on imports of US beef, allowing shipments of boneless meat from animals less than 30 months old and veal from animals less than nine months old.

The Mexican government announced in December that it was banning imports of US beef following the discovery of a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, in Washington state.

Mexico is one of the main export markets for US beef, importing 346,520 tons of US beef from January to November last year, worth US$818m.

Mexico said its ban on imports of live US cattle still remains, reported the Associated Press.

The American Meat Institute welcomed Mexico's decision, but called for a total lifting of the ban.

"We are encouraged that the government of Mexico will seek to restore limited imports of US boneless beef products. However, we believe full trade in all beef products and in live animals from the US should be restored swiftly," said AMI president J Patrick Boyle.