FTA: The Price of Sacrifice

SOUTH KOREA - The South Korean government's decision to import US beef is causing unrest on public health grounds. Soon cows that are less than 30 months old will be imported into the country from, what many believe to be, a risky US market.
calendar icon 22 April 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

The restriction will be lifted as part of negotiations on beef import rules currently taking place between South Korea and the United States, claims The Hankyoreh. South Koreans will then be at risk of eating beef that contains materials that can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, which is more commonly known as mad cow disease. During negotiations on the beef issue, which resumed shortly after the National Assembly election, Seoul has made a one-sided concession.

This has all come about because President Lee, who is visiting Washington, values the free trade agreement with the United States, and the United States has repeatedly urged South Korea to lift restrictions on beef imports if it wants to conclude the FTA. It is wrong for the government to accept U.S. demands in order to complete the FTA, from which Seoul will suffer bigger losses than gains, while putting aside the public health and issues faced by cattle ranchers. It is also unclear whether the U.S. Congress will ratify the FTA with Korea, says the The Hankyoreh.

Since the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, concluded last May that the United States was able control the risks associated with mad cow disease, Washington has urged Seoul to open its beef market completely. Seoul was initially planning to allow imports of bone-in beef, while keeping the restriction on imports of beef younger than 30 months, but will likely ease the age restriction on the condition that the United States strengthen measures to ban animal feed and will make an effort to improve the system for tracking beef to its point of origin.

  • View The Hankyoreh story by clicking here.

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