Taiwan will reopen its markets to U.S. bone-in beef most likely in November, ending a six-year import ban that was in place over fears of mad cow disease, and ushering improving ties with Washington, officials said on Friday.

Following other markets, Taiwan halted U.S. beef imports in response to the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States. As other markets reopened in recent years, Washington repeatedly urged the island government to let beef back in.

A deal to allow Taiwan to import bone-in beef imports signed by the island and the United States on Thursday in Washington is expected to ease overall relations, U.S. officials in Taiwan said.

"It removes an irritant that's been nagging for as long as I can remember," said Syd Goldsmith, a retired U.S. diplomat in Taipei who has been following the issue closely. "Why do anything that raises the noise level?"

The deal allows imports of all beef products from cattle under 30 months old. Imports from older cattle will be allowed later if meat from the younger ones is found safe, a U.S. official said.

Taiwan, which first issued the ban in December 2003, opened again to boneless U.S. beef in 2006, but kept the ban on bone-in beef such as ribs and T-bone steaks.

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