An agreement was reached Friday to fully open the South Korean market to U.S. beef exports following guidelines and international standards of the World Health Organization. Exports to South Korea were banned in 2003 following the discovery of a case of BSE. While exports were partially reopened last year to beef from cattle less than 30 months of age there were several stoppages and the market for all intents and purposes has been closed since October 2007.
"I am pleased to reopen the Korean market to all U.S. beef and beef products, from cattle of all ages," says U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. "The import protocol is fully consistent with OIE guidelines and other international standards. I am very pleased that safe, affordable, high-quality American beef will soon be back on Korean tables. This will be a huge boost to our ranchers and producers who have waited patiently to regain the access to the South Korean beef market."
The agreement also clears the way for ratification of the free trade agreement that was signed with South Korea last June. Congress has refused to consider the agreement until the beef market issue was resolved. The full implementation of the new import standards will begin in mid-May.
"I hope South Korea's leadership on this issue will convince leaders in Japan, Taiwan, China and other markets still maintaining unscientific, unreasonable restrictions on U.S. beef and beef products to take a hard look at this issue, consider the benefits for their consumers, and follow South Korea's lead in reopening their markets based on internationally recognized scientific guidelines and standards," Schwab says.