S. Korea expected to hold new U.S. beef import talks in August

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea may kick off new talks aimed at possible easing of current U.S. beef import standards next month, a government official said Monday.
calendar icon 9 July 2007
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The announcement comes after 10 South Korean livestock experts returned from an on-site inspection in the United States and Seoul moves to establish fresh guidelines for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) conditions.

"A government proposal on SPS is due late next week, and this is to be forwarded to the livestock quarantine cooperative committee for review later in the month," said Kim Chang-seob, chief veterinary officer at the Agriculture Ministry.

The committee is made up of government and civilian experts that include local livestock growers, environmentalists and consumer groups. It cannot veto the government proposal, but is authorized to give its views, which can be incorporated into the final guidelines.

Kim, who led the inspection team, said that judging by local schedules it may not be until August before South Korea and the U.S. can sit down to revise American beef import conditions that were last agreed upon in January 2006.

The inspection team visited butchering facilities, meat processing plants and beef holding areas, as well as cattle ranches and feed suppliers, from June 30 to Sunday.

South Korea now only permits boneless meat from cattle under 30 month old to be imported. Washington has insisted on greater access to the South Korean beef market, including imports of bone-in beef like ribs.

Before Seoul banned U.S. beef in late 2003, U.S. imports made up the bulk of foreign beef sold in the country. American ribs accounted for about 60 percent of the imports.

Source: Yonhap News
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