Korea, US in Tug of War Over Beef

SOUTH KOREA - Korea on Wednesday rejected a request by the United States to allow U.S. beef with ``bone fragments’’ to be imported into the country.
calendar icon 8 February 2007
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During their first day of technical consultations on quarantine inspections of U.S. beef at the National Veterinary Research & Quarantine Service in Anyang, Kyonggi Province, U.S. negotiators said that Korea should not reject beef shipments if they contain bone fragments.

The U.S. delegation also asked Korea to inspect the beef shipments on a sampling-based quarantine system, not on a system probing all products.

While the two sides will hold more talks on Thursday, Agriculture and Forestry Vice Minister Park Hae-sang said Korea will stick to its position to import only ``deboned’’ U.S. beef.

But he hinted at an agreement, saying, ``We could reach a consensus about dealing with beef containing bone chips.’’

Park said several methods could be discussed including the possibility that Korea reject only beef in boxes that contain bone fragments and accept the remainder.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-hoon, chief Korean negotiator for the free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the U.S., said the bilateral negotiations have faced a deadlock due to the conflict over the beef import issue.

In a speech hosted by the Federation of Korean Industries yesterday, he suggested that Korea’s rejection of U.S. beef with bone fragments is a big hurdle for the FTA talks.

The U.S. negotiators for the two-day beef talks in Seoul include U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Chuck Lambert.

Source: The Korea Times

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