Rejection of U.S. beef imports 'must have scientific ground': Seoul official

SOUTH KOREA - A top South Korean trade official made an issue Wednesday with his country's recent rejection of U.S. beef imports, suggesting that the dispute should be resolved as soon as possible to clear the way for a free trade agreement between the two countries.
calendar icon 7 February 2007
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Ending a three-year ban prompted by a mad cow scare, South Korea re-allowed imports of American beef last year but has since turned back three shipments totaling 22.3 tons after tiny bone chips were found in them.

South Korean quarantine officials defended their action as health-oriented but Washington accused Seoul of applying its safety regulations too strictly to block U.S. beef imports.

"Can we say all bones are dangerous? I don't think so," Kim Jong-hoon, the chief South Korean negotiator in free trade talks with the U.S., told a forum in Seoul.

Kim said the "beef" row could hurt South Korea's efforts to grow its economy through free trade.

"I believe in our quarantine regulators' capability, but if we reject imports of goods by erecting an obstacle, that won't be our appropriate trade policy," he said.

Though the trade spat over beef imports isn't technically part of ongoing free trade negotiations between the two countries, U.S. officials have warned that their Congress won't approve a free trade agreement with Seoul unless the beef issue is resolved amicably.

Source: Yonhap News
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