The ban had been imposed due to the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) earlier this year. Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong also limited poultry products from the US following the outbreak.
The United States notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that it was now free of HPAI, removing any justification for trading partners to restrict imports of US poultry.
In the last full year without any HPAI-related trade restrictions in place, 2014, South Korea purchased $122 million (m) of US poultry products, including eggs, making it the US’ 10th-largest market. South Korea’s overall poultry imports from all sources exceeded $350m in 2016, but only $39m came from the US.
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said: “The United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world and we were at once able to quickly identify, confine, and control this most recent disease outbreak. Our hope is that Korean officials will recognise that our system works and will move towards a regional approach in the event of any future findings of bird flu.
“South Korea is one of our best trading partners, and we want to continue being their most dependable supplier of high-quality food and farm products. Korea’s lifting of its most recent ban is an important move for our poultry and egg industries, but it is still just the first step.”
The Korean government also announced a temporary measure to allow US eggs and egg products to enter the country duty free, due to a shortage of domestic supplies. Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture worked with Korea’s agriculture ministry to reopen the market for US eggs and egg products, but imports were again restricted after the HPAI detection in Tennessee. Year-to-date exports through June have totalled $12m, up nearly $10m compared with the same period last year.
According to Foreign Agricultural Service trade data, overall US poultry meat exports for the first half of 2017 rose by 4.7% to 1,810,937 metric tons from the same period in 2016, and increased in value by 7.3% to $1.996 billion, while total egg exports for January through June 2017 increased by 35% to 123.1 million dozen. The value of those egg exports rose by 21.6% to $109.9m