WASHINGTON – An agreement was recently reached where South Korea will allow Canadian bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months of age. This deal would end South Korea’s eight-year-old ban on Canadian beef imposed after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003. Imports may resume before the end of the year if procedural steps are completed, officials said.

However, in moving forward a decision to end the ban requires a review by South Korea’s parliament, after which the government must implement on-site inspections in Canada before the market can be reopened.

Although South Korea reopened its markets to US beef in 2008, other countries are moving forward to expand trade partnerships while the US sits on the sidelines, charged Bill Donald, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president.

“If the Obama administration and Congress quit stalling [on the proposed US-South Korea free-trade agreement – KORUS FTA], we have an opportunity to ratify one of the most significant trade agreements in history,” he added. “This trade pact is long overdue. The inaction on this trade agreement has jeopardized America’s competitive advantage in this very important market and consequently has stymied economic growth and job creation.”

If implemented, the US beef industry would see $15 million in new tariff benefits in the first year alone, with about $325 million in tariff reductions annually once fully implemented, he continued. If the FTA is significantly stalled or not implemented, the likelihood of relinquishing US agricultural export sales to other countries, such as Canada, is imminent, he said.

Donald noted there are 13 trade agreements between South Korea and US competitors in place or in the works involving approximately 50 nations around the world.

“The administration needs to move forward and send Congress the KORUS FTA and the pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Stop making these pending agreements the pawns of a political chess game. We should have been in these markets four years ago," he concluded.