Korea, U.S. to hold high-level agriculture talks next month

SOUTH KOREA - Korea and the United States have agreed to hold high-level negotiations on agriculture in Washington, D.C. from March 5 to 6, a couple days ahead of the next round of free trade agreement talks, the Agriculture Ministry in Seoul said yesterday
calendar icon 28 February 2007
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Min Dong-seok, deputy minister of agriculture trade policy at the ministry, and Richard Crowder, chief agricultural negotiator of the U.S. Trade Representative, will lead the talks.

"On the first day of talks, negotiators will aim to narrow differences on concessions for key sensitive areas, as well as discuss related agricultural issues in their proposed bilateral FTA," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. "The final day of talks will focus on beef import quarantine measures."

Korean and U.S. negotiators wrapped up their four-day talks in Washington on Feb. 14 with boosted confidence that both sides will conclude a successful deal by the end-of-March deadline. Washington has repeatedly said that full reopening of Korea's beef market is critical to finalizing a successful FTA.

The eighth round of FTA talks is scheduled to take place from March 8 to 12 in Seoul.

Agriculture negotiators had until the seventh round clearly indicated that sensitive farm products would not be handled until the very last stages of negotiations. They also emphasized that the time was still not right to elevate the talks from working-group level to ones led by high-ranking officials.

Fears over mad cow disease after a case was confirmed in the U.S. state of Washington in late 2003 have prevented the Korean government from fully opening up its market. The government has cited public health concerns as the main reason for applying stricter quarantine measures on U.S. beef shipments.

Source: The Korea Herald
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