Seoul Close To Lifting Canada Beef Ban - MacKay

SEOUL - South Korea is "very close" to lifting a three-year ban on Canadian beef, and that should help clear the way for a free trade deal between the two countries, Canada’s foreign minister said today.
calendar icon 2 May 2007
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South Korea allowed the first shipment of US beef last week after a ban since December 2003 over mad cow concerns. Seoul and Washington reached a free trade deal on April 2 that studies said could add $20bn to their annual $72bn two-way trade.

"My discussions (with South Korean officials) yesterday confirmed what I knew to be true, and that was (South) Korea was very close to lifting any further restrictions on Canadian beef," Minister Peter MacKay told reporters in Seoul.

MacKay said beef and a free trade deal were not directly linked but said: "There’s no question it would be politically unpalatable for us to have an ongoing beef ban for Canadian beef and expect that we’re going to be able to finally ink a free trade agreement."

"I believe this is an irritant, but one that is going to be resolved in the very near future."

South Korean agricultural officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: BusinessToday
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