WASHINGTON – Although the American Meat Institute commended US negotiators for their efforts, AMI also expressed disappointment that US and South Korean negotiators have failed to resolve issues that have stalled Congressional approval of the US-Korean Free Trade Agreement.

It is essential to pass the agreement so that tariff reduction schedules can begin, AMI said. South Korea applies a tariff of 40% to US beef products, 18% to 27% on US offal, 25% for frozen pork, 22.5% for fresh/chilled pork, 20% for chicken and 18% for turkey.

US beef exports to South Korea through August this year are up 175% over the same period last year.

“This is a very encouraging trend,” said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president. “Consumer response to US beef has been positive and we look forward to continuing to strengthen these relationships. While pork exports are down so far this year, the long term outlook is extremely positive. A reduction in tariffs will make our products even more affordable and accessible for Korean consumers.

“If we do not pass this agreement soon, our export opportunities may be at risk to competitors like Australia, who are actively negotiating agreements with Korea as we speak,” Boyle added.

Passage and implementation of the US Korea Free Trade Agreement could generate an additional $2.3 billion in exports and create 29,524 jobs, according to a 2010 AMI analysis of pending free-trade agreements.

“These potential gains cannot be realized until our governments resolve outstanding issues and pass these agreements,” Boyle said.