S.Korea to resume Canada beef imports after 8 years

Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:16pm EDT
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By Cho Mee-young and Rod Nickel

SEOUL/WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - South Korea said on Monday, it will resume imports of Canadian beef that it suspended in 2003 after an outbreak of mad cow disease, and will allow meat from cows younger than 30 months old.

A wider choice of beef imports may help tame inflation in Asia's fourth-largest economy, which is still recovering from its livestock herd's worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Both countries also agreed to end their dispute over resumption of beef imports through the World Trade Organization, their agriculture ministries said.

South Korea's agriculture ministry said, the government will submit a motion to the South Korean parliament to review the bilateral deal before announcing details of the import safety criteria.

"The Canadian government told us that all the procedures would be completed by December 31 of this year to resume beef imports. And, our government said, that we would do our best to resume the imports within the period," the ministry statement said.

Canada, the third-biggest beef shipper, described the agreement as "a breakthrough," but noted that it still requires public consultations and legislative approval in South Korea.

"After almost a decade, Canadian beef producers are on track to gain access to the lucrative South Korean market, making our industry and entire economy stronger," said Canada's agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, in a statement.

South Korea is the last major beef-importing country to agree to lower its restrictions on Canadian beef, since a 2003 outbreak of mad-cow disease (BSE) in Canada.   Continued...

<p>A store clerk adjusts Canadian beef at a meat store in Tokyo January 15, 2006. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>