The South Korean government has agreed to fully reopen its market to U.S. beef exports. The market has been mostly closed since December 2003, when a case of "mad-cow" disease, or BSE, was discovered in the U.S. In January of 2006, Korea partially reopened the country to U.S. boneless beef under the age of 30 months. But U.S. officials and lawmakers insisted on a full reopening of the Korean market to all U.S. beef before submitting to Congress the proposed United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The pact was signed on June 30 of last year. It would make nearly 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products duty-free within three years, with two-thirds of U.S. agricultural products achieving duty-free status immediately upon ratification. U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said full resumption of U.S. beef exports to South Korea removes "the major obstacle" to congressional consideration of the FTA. Before implementation of the ban, the market for exported U.S. beef and beef products to Korea was valued at $815m a year. The U.S. Trade Representative has estimated that the FTA would generate some $500m in annual tariff savings for U.S. beef exporters, based on 2003 trade levels alone. The Korean government action was also hailed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "A significant obstacle has been cleared that gives us great momentum to bring the benefits of this agreement to Congress," said Myron Brilliant, the Chamber's vice-president for Asia affairs.
USTR Statement: http://www.ustr.gov
U.S. Chamber Statement: http://www.uschamber.com
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