South Korean U-Turn on US Beef

SOUTH KOREA - Seoul's farm ministry today announced that it has decided to open the door to American beef just a little bit wider. The news comes after reports that the discussions had broken down earlier in the week and seemed to have ended. Today's move clears a major hurdle stalling a landmark trade deal with the United States.
calendar icon 18 April 2008
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"We are working on fine-tuning details and an official announcement will be made at 6 p.m. (0900 GMT),) a farm ministry statement said. An agreement on U.S. beef imports would remove a big obstacle to congressional approval of the trade deal, the biggest since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into force in 1994, reported the Guardian.

According to the news agency, U.S. lawmakers have said a landmark trade pact the two countries struck about a year ago would be scuttled unless South Korea opened its markets fully to U.S. beef.

South Korea currently only imports boneless beef from cattle younger than 30 months, after lifting a blanket ban imposed on all American imports in 2003 following the outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States.

The Asian country has compromised to accept bone-in beef from the same age category, while Washington insists its Asian trading partner open its market to a full spectrum of U.S. beef exports.

  • View the Guardian story by clicking here.
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