S. Korea May Import U.S. Bone-In Beef By Year's End

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea could ease import rules that will allow U.S. bone-in beef to reach consumers by the end of the year, an official source said Tuesday.
calendar icon 4 April 2007
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The source at the agriculture ministry said that if the U.S. asks for negotiations to rewrite Seoul's beef import standards in June, changes could be made within three to four months.

The remark by the official, who declined to be identified, came only a day after Agriculture Minister Park Hong-soo said Seoul will renegotiate import rules, but hinted that it could take some time.

The minister said at a briefing that the upcoming announcement by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is expected to classify the U.S. as a mad cow "controlled risk" country in late May, need not be followed implicitly. He added that it must be looked upon as a reference, despite views that the OIE's new classification could give Washington a strong hand in exporting most beef parts.

South Korea had banned U.S. beef in December 2003 after a mad cow case was reported. It then signed a deal with the U.S. in January 2006, permitting boneless beef from cattle under 30 months old to be imported.

However, tough inspections made it difficult for U.S. beef to reach the market, so South Korea has taken steps this year to not send back entire shipments of beef when bone chips are discovered in individual packages.

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