Seoul Wants to Keep Beef Off FTA Table

US - A senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said Tuesday that the beef issue between South Korea and the United States will not be handled by the bilateral high-level talks.
calendar icon 24 January 2007
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The issue about whether to allow import of U.S. beef with ``bone fragments’’ may be settled down through discussions among quarantine experts, a ministry director general told The Korea Times.

``It is no use holding meetings between high-level government officials in connection with the free trade agreement (FTA) talks,’’ he said. The high-ranking officials include trade ministers and chief FTA negotiators.

His remarks came after Wendy Cutler, assistant U.S. Trade Representative and chief U.S. negotiator for an FTA with Korea, told reporters on Monday (local time) in Washington, D.C. that a successful FTA would not be possible unless the beef issue is solved.

Some U.S. media quoted Cutler at her conference-call briefing, as saying, ``Korea understands that the beef issue needs to be (finalized) if the FTA is going to happen.’’

She said, ``I’d hope that when we get back together with Korea, we can find a path forward not only on the boneless issue, but also to look at how we can achieve a full reopening in the following months.’’

Source: The Korea Times
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