South Korea Agrees To Lift Partially Ban on U.S. Beef Exports
The United States and South Korea have reached agreement on an initial import protocol that would reopen South Korea's market to certain exports of U.S. beef, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced January 13.
The agreement authorizes the United States to export boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age, subject to an export verification program.
South Korea banned imports of U.S. beef in December 2003 when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow disease," was identified in the state of Washington, in a single cow of Canadian origin. The wave of embargoes following that discovery dealt a severe blow to the U.S. beef industry. According to USDA, the United States exported beef and beef products to 119 countries in 2003. The agreement with South Korea brings to 68 the number of countries permitting imports of U.S. beef and beef products, often with specific terms.
Before the ban, South Korea was the third-largest market for U.S. beef, importing $815 million worth of beef and beef products in 2003.
The U.S. officials welcomed the agreement as a first step toward normalization of beef trade.
"We welcome the conclusion of our technical negotiations with Seoul," Johanns said. "This paves the way for the reopening of Korea's beef market, and we anticipate that trade will resume toward the end of March after Korea completes its import procedures."
Portman said the United States would continue to press South Korea to lift restrictions on U.S. exports of bone-in beef, variety meats, and offal, which historically have constituted about half of U.S. beef exports to that country.
An agreement between the United States and Japan to reopen Japanese markets to imports of U.S. beef was announced December 11, 2005. (See related article.)
Following is the full text of a joint statement
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Executive Office of the President
USTR Press Releases are available on the USTR website at www.ustr.gov
For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2006
Christin Baker / Neena Moorjani
Secretary Johanns and USTR Portman Welcome Progress to Reopen Korean
Market to U.S. Beef
Washington, DC, Jan. 13, 2006 - Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced that Korea and the United States have agreed on an initial import protocol, an important step in reopening Korea's market to U.S. beef.
"We welcome the conclusion of our technical negotiations in Seoul. This paves the way for the reopening of Korea's beef market, and we anticipate that trade will resume toward the end of March after Korea completes its import procedures," said Secretary Johanns. "Korea has been our third largest market for beef exports, so regaining this market has been a priority for the Administration."
The initial agreement will allow the United States to export boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age under a Beef Export Verification Program.
Ambassador Portman said, "Although we appreciate this step toward normalized beef trade with Korea, we are extremely disappointed that Korea did not fully open its market to all U.S. beef products. We will continue to urge Korea in the strongest terms to open its market without delay to U.S. bone-in beef, variety meats, and offal. Together these products historically accounted for approximately 50 percent of U.S. beef exports to Korea."
Korea has prohibited imports of U.S. beef and beef products since December 2003, following the detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in a single cow of Canadian origin in Washington State. In 2003, before the ban took effect, the United States exported $815 million worth of beef and beef products to Korea, of which $449 million was boneless beef.
Secretary Johanns added, "As we continue discussions with Korea, I urge Thailand, China, Taiwan, Singapore and others to comply with science-based international guidelines and reopen their markets to U.S. beef."
The United States has been working with Korea and other countries around the world to remove the remaining restrictions on imports of U.S. beef. Since the closing of many U.S. export markets in December 2003, the United States has recovered access to markets valued at more than $3.2 billion, or 82 percent of the 2003 export value of $3.9 billion.