Canada starts talks with South Korea for beef trade

Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:39am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will begin negotiations with South Korea on November 3 to resume beef shipments to the Asian nation, which were banned in May 2003 due to mad cow concerns, Ottawa said on Wednesday.

Before Korea closed its borders to Canadian beef, it represented the fourth largest market for the industry with C$50 million ($40 million) in annual sales, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement.

The technical negotiations aim at "increasing export opportunities for Canadian beef," the CFIA said.

South Korea agreed earlier this year resume imports of U.S. beef, with some restrictions. Initially, the move was hugely unpopular and sparked street protests over widespread concern that diseased cattle would slip through the inspections.

Canada was declared a "controlled risk" country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in 2007 by the World Organization for Animal health. That means there should be no restrictions on trade.

($1=$1.25 Canadian)

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)