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U.S. Supports Korean Gov.’s Policy Priority Over Public Health

U.S. Supports Korean Gov.’s Policy Priority Over Public Health

Posted May. 14, 2008 08:36,   


A top U.S. trade official expressed support for the Korean government regarding the growing controversy in Korea over the right to beef quarantine. U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said Monday that she is in full support of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s efforts to prioritize Korean people’s health.

Schwab said in a statement, “The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) preserve each country`s right (quarantine sovereignty) so that every government can ensure the safety of its citizens, and that includes food safety.” She emphasized that the sovereignty over quarantine inspections has already been guaranteed by international accords.

When requirements specified in Article 20 of the GATT are met, the United States admits that the Korean government has a right to take necessary measures to protect its people’s health in accordance with the provision, said Schwab.

“I accept and agree with the public statement made by Prime Minister Han Seung-soo on May 8 to put the safety of the people before anything else in devising policies, and I will ask for nothing other than that,” she added.

To this, President Lee Myung-bak said in a cabinet meeting held at the presidential office Tuesday, “The U.S. government accepted that we can suspend beef imports when the issue (over the safety of U.S. beef) arises and also admitted that U.S. beef may pose health risks.” While emphasizing the U.S.’s recognition of GATT Article 20 that stipulates rights to beef inspections, Lee commented, “Though the United States said it will be difficult to implement what the prime minister said in the statement (indicating the possibility of the suspension of beef imports) for fear of a possible trade dispute, the U.S. government acknowledged our concerns. We should inform the public about this.”

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said at a parliamentary hearing for discussing the ratification of the KORUS FTA held on the same day, “I am fully aware that the public’s angst is mounting over the safety of U.S. beef but it doesn’t make sense for us to reopen the negotiations (over the resumption of U.S. beef imports) due to public sentiment.”