U.S. and Korea reach agreement on beef trade terms
U.S. and Korean officials have agreed to a trade protocol that will allow the United States to resume exports of beef to South Korea.
“America’s cattle producers applaud the long-awaited reopening of the South Korean market to U.S. beef,” said Andy Groseta, Arizona cattleman and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “When I visited Korea in February, I saw first-hand how much Korean consumers want access to high-quality U.S. beef in their supermarkets and restaurants.”
Prior to December 2003, South Korea represented the third-largest market for U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports, valued annually at $815 million. In September 2006, Korea finally agreed to accept U.S. boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age. But this market reopening was never viable for U.S. beef producers because it excluded bone-in beef products, which are popular with Korean consumers.
Initially, the protocol will allow for the shipment of all U.S. beef products (boneless and bone-in beef, as well as variety meats) from animals under 30 months of age. Korea has agreed that this is a first step toward accepting all U.S. beef products from animals of all ages as directed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
Gregg Doud, NCBA chief economist, says South Korea potentially represents a $1 billion market and could grow to be the United States’ top beef customer.
“The U.S. beef industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to President Bush and his administration, as well as our trade negotiators and members of Congress for this historic undertaking on the issue of Korean beef trade. It is thanks to their long-term cooperative efforts that we have such a fantastic agreement to announce today,” says Doud. “And the reason we have that kind of strong support in Washington, is because cattlemen really pulled together through their national organization to demand fair treatment in this critical market.”
Assuming trade resumes as planned, NCBA will ask Congress to consider, support and pass the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as soon as possible.
“For U.S. beef trade, the Korean FTA could be could be the biggest and most important bilateral trade agreement in history,” according to Doud.
The Nebraska Cattlemen has high hopes for a dramatic increase of beef sales to South Korea. Beef sales from Nebraska to South Korea in 2003 were worth an estimated $200 million.
Restoring the trade could help Nebraska regain its claim as the No. 1 meat and live animal exporting state. Last fiscal year, Nebraska was No. 2 with $666 million in meat and live animal exports. In fiscal year, 2003 that figure was $1.03 billion.
“Today’s news can be better still when the U.S. fulfills its promise to approve a free trade agreement with S. Korea,” Nebraska Cattlemen President Larry Smith said. “The U.S. has said South Korea needed to restore beef trade before a free trade agreement could be approved. Nebraska Cattlemen was a very strong supporter of this position. Now that the South Korean government has agreed to reopen beef trade consistent with international standards, the U.S. needs to approve the free trade agreement.”