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Seoul, Washington to Discuss Beef Renegotiation

Posted June. 13, 2008 07:57,   


The government said yesterday that the trade ministers of Korea and the United States would hold additional talks to prevent U.S. beef products from cattle older than 30 months from entering the domestic market.

Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon held a briefing in Seoul, saying, “I’m planning to visit the United States Friday and have an additional negotiation with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab to come up with substantive and effective ways to prevent U.S. beef products from cattle older than 30 months from entering the Korean market.”

Kim will meet his counterpart to start the additional discussion on June 13 (local time) at the earliest.

He explained that the negotiation is not a renegotiation but is aimed at producing results that could be considered a renegotiation in effect, by preventing U.S. beef products from cattle older than 30 months. That means that he would seek to change the import conditions the two countries agreed in April.

Kim said, “There are many ways to change the content of agreement. The wisest choice is to have the same effect without causing any trust issue for Korea in the international community.”

He also said, “The purpose of my visit is to restore consumers’ trust by implementing the consensus of the two countries’ private sectors (not to import U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months) substantively and effectively. I believe that some form of government intervention is necessary in the process.” But he showed a cautious approach regarding the two government’s written guarantee of the private sectors’ voluntary restraint.

He said, “In the case of a written guarantee, government intervention stands out, which can cause another problem. So we need to gather wisdom on such an aspect.”

The government delegation, including Vice Agriculture Minister Park Deok-bae, who left for the United States Monday, will join Kim for the scheduled negotiation.