On June 27, 2011, South Korea and Canada agreed to conditions that would result in the resumption of beef exports from Canada to Korea.

Korea reportedly will allow Canadian bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months age. This action would officially conclude South Korea’s eight-year-old ban on Canadian beef imposed subsequent to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003.

According to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, imports may resume before the end of the year if procedural steps are completed. The decision to lift 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.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald said while Korea reopened its markets to U.S. beef in 2008, this news is further proof that countries are moving forward to expand trade partnerships while the United States sits on the sidelines.

“If the Obama administration and Congress quit stalling, we have an opportunity to ratify one of the most significant trade agreements in history. 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,” said Donald.

“If implemented, the U.S. 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.”

Donald said stalling on the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) poses serious consequences for U.S agriculture.

He said if the FTA is significantly stalled or not implemented the likelihood of relinquishing U.S. agricultural export sales to other countries, such as Canada, is imminent.

Donald said there are 13 trade agreements between South Korea and U.S. 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,” Donald said. “Stop making these pending agreements the pawns of a political chess game. We should have been in these markets four years ago.”