DENVER – The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is disappointed discussions between the US and South Korean governments have not resolved the issues that have stalled concurrence on the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"The US beef and pork industries stand to benefit directly from South Korea's phased elimination of duties under the FTA, and we regret that our industry members cannot yet realize those benefits," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "We strongly support passage of the agreement at the earliest opportunity."

One of the two issues identified by the US government, which must be resolved before the FTA can move forward, is the question of South Korea's restrictions on imports of US beef. USMEF expects the elimination of South Korea's import duties, together with the associated growth in demand for US beef and pork in South Korea, will result in significant export gains for the US red meat industry.

"We support the efforts of the US negotiators to constructively engage their [South] Korean counterparts on the remaining issues in a harmonious fashion that is consistent with the interests of both sides," Seng said. "We remain hopeful that the two sides will resolve these issues in the very near future."

Up through August 2010, US beef exports to South Korea reached $345 million, up 175% from the same period in 2009, and US beef now is back on the shelves of all of the major retailers in South Korea and on the menus of many leading restaurants since being reintroduced to the market in 2008.

US pork exports through August reached $128 million, a 16% decline from 2009. When measured by value, South Korea is the US’ fifth-largest pork export market and fourth-largest beef market for the first eight months of 2010.