While US meat experts are pleased with the US-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS Agreement), which entered into force on 15 March, following bipartisan support from Democrat and Republican members of the US Congress, the industry says the ban is unnecessary. William Westman, the vice-president of international trade at the American Meat Institute (AMI), said: “We’ve worked pretty hard for [free trade agreements like] this.”
However, he noted that, recently, countries including Chile, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have ended their BSE-based US beef import restrictions moves and Westman hoped the South Korean government would mirror this: “Certainly the science is behind us. And other countries are buying [US beef] so it is not the problem any more, as far as we are concerned.”
According to the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the trade agreement will progressively reduce tariffs on US beef exports from 40% to zero over the next 10 years, but Washington still wants the BSE-linked ban ended. A spokesperson from the USTR said: “Korea is our fourth-largest market for beef exports and this trend of robust sales is continuing into 2012.
“Reopening [South] Korea’s beef market, consistent with science and international standards as well as in a commercially viable manner, remains an important priority.”