Office of the United States Trade Representative


Secretary Johanns and USTR Portman Welcome Progress to Reopen Korean Market to U.S. Beef

Washington, DC – Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced that Korea and the United States have agreed on an initial import protocol, an important step in reopening Korea’s market to U.S. beef.

"We welcome the conclusion of our technical negotiations in Seoul. This paves the way for the reopening of Korea’s beef market, and we anticipate that trade will resume toward the end of March after Korea completes its import procedures," said Secretary Johanns. "Korea has been our third largest market for beef exports, so regaining this market has been a priority for the Administration."

The initial agreement will allow the United States to export boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age under a Beef Export Verification Program.

Ambassador Portman said, "Although we appreciate this step toward normalized beef trade with Korea, we are extremely disappointed that Korea did not fully open its market to all U.S. beef products. We will continue to urge Korea in the strongest terms to open its market without delay to U.S. bone-in beef, variety meats, and offal. Together these products historically accounted for approximately 50 percent of U.S. beef exports to Korea."

Korea has prohibited imports of U.S. beef and beef products since December 2003, following the detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in a single cow of Canadian origin in Washington State. In 2003, before the ban took effect, the United States exported $815 million worth of beef and beef products to Korea, of which $449 million was boneless beef.

Secretary Johanns added, "As we continue discussions with Korea, I urge Thailand, China, Taiwan, Singapore and others to comply with science-based international guidelines and reopen their markets to U.S. beef."

The United States has been working with Korea and other countries around the world to remove the remaining restrictions on imports of U.S. beef. Since the closing of many U.S. export markets in December 2003, the United States has recovered access to markets valued at more than $3.2 billion, or 82 percent of the 2003 export value of $3.9 billion.


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