As Time Narrows On Trade Deal, U.S. Pushes For Beef Imports

U.S - South Korea is under mounting pressure from the U.S. to fully open its market to beef imports from that country, sources close to the matter say, as the two nations haggle over a final deal on a proposed free trade agreement (FTA).
calendar icon 30 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
A Sit In Against South Korea

On March 28, U.S. President George W. Bush weighed in on the issue, applying further pressure. President Bush said in a speech to the U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, "The objective of this to make sure that [beef markets] are better than partially opened, that they are fully opened, including to countries like Japan and Korea." Opening up beef markets "is an important part of our foreign policy," President Bush added.

South Korea banned U.S. beef imports in 2003 after an outbreak of mad cow disease there. Prior to that, South Korea had ranked 3rd in the world, following Japan and Mexico, in quantity of U.S. beef imports, reaching US$ 815 million in 2003 alone prior to the ban. Last year, Korea partially lifted the restrictions, allowing only boneless imports. The U.S. has pushed the beef issue as part of ongoing FTA talks in order to remove the ban on imports of "bone-in" meat.

Most recently, Washington has been pushing Seoul to give it a written promise on providing a timetable for the market opening by the end of this Month, ahead of a the conclusion of an analysis by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) regarding health risks in U.S. beef products. The organization is expected to release its final report in May, and experts are anticipating the U.S. will be rated a "controlled risk country" for mad cow disease.

Customs and quarantine are two of the most contentious issues at the FTA negotiations. Regarding coustoms, agricultural officials of both countries are currently holding talks on removing Korea’s 40 percent tariff on beef imports, and observers are anticipating a breakthrough on the issue by South Korea lowering the tariff.

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.