NORTH SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Plans for trade negotiations between Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and H.E. Lee Myung-bak, president of the Republic of Korea, marks a new phase in the strong relationship between the two nations, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.

"A comprehensive F.T.A. that further facilitates trade to one of our most important beef customers, presents a unique opportunity," said David Palmer, M.L.A. managing director. Securing a stable trade platform will be of direct benefit to Korean consumers who are demanding reliable, safe, quality product which our industry supplies."

Last year Australia exported 127,206 tonnes of chilled / frozen beef, 1987 tonnes of lamb, 1181 tonnes of mutton, 241 tonnes of goat meat and 19,423 tonnes of offal to Korea. These export volumes reaffirmed Korea as Australia’s third-largest beef export market -- capturing 13% of the volume of Australia’s global beef exports. Together, red meat products exported to Korea generated more than US$481.2 million in returns to the industry.

All beef imported into Korea currently faces a 40% tariff. The issue of an FTA between Australia and Korea has gained significant importance since the formalization last year of an F.T.A. between Korea and the U.S.

"An F.T.A. with Korea is an imperative for the Australian beef industry especially in light of the F.T.A. Korea negotiated with the U.S., which will obviously make Australian beef comparatively less price competitive when it is implemented," Mr. Palmer said.

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