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Mad Cow Disease May Hamper Trade Relationship Between Korea And U.S.

Mad Cow Disease May Hamper Trade Relationship Between Korea And U.S.

Posted December. 28, 2003 23:08,   


Because the Korean government has banned U.S. beef imports, the U.S. administration has decided to send a high-level delegation to Korea on December 30.

There is a chance that if the U.S. delegation requires the Korean government to immediately lift the ban on U.S. beef imports, that the situation may expand to become a trade conflict.

In addition, the U.S. administration has stated that the problematic cow was imported from Canada in 2001, stirring up discord between the U.S. and Canada.

According to the Agriculture Ministry on December 28, the U.S. agricultural department informed the Korean government through the U.S. embassy in Korea that a high-level delegation comprised of three officials, including the special assistant agricultural secretary, David Hagwood, would visit Korea on December 30. The delegates are scheduled to visit Japan on December 29, in advance of Korea.

“Considering that in May, when mad cow disease first broke out in Canada, that countries around the world including Korea and the United States banned Canadian beef imports immediately, it is strongly expected that the United States will not ask for an immediate cancellation of the ban,” said Kim Dal-jung, chief of the stock-raising department of the Agriculture Ministry, adding “The basic policy of our government is to keep the ban on importing beef from the U.S.”

But as the Korean and Japanese markets are the third and first largest importers of U.S. beef, it is expected that any kind of cooperation request from the U.S. will come up in the upcoming talks.

The Agriculture Ministry officially banned U.S. beef imports on December 27. Also, on December 28, the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) banned the import of processed foodstuffs containing cow substances raised in U.S.

The ministry has also sealed 38 tons of previously distributed beef, which includes Specified Risk Materials (SRM), and 2,309 tons that had been set aside in customs house storage.

On the other hand, the chief veterinary surgeon of the U.S. agriculture ministry said at a December 27 press conference that, “According to the data from Canada, the problematic cow was imported from Alberta, Canada in August 2001 to Washington state, through Eastpost, Idaho.”

In response, the Canadian government replied, saying “It’s too early to draw such a conclusion,” stirring up discord between the two countries.

Jin-Hup Song Jin Lee jinhup@donga.com leej@donga.com