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U.S. Lawmakers Divided Over Voluntary Restraint

Posted June. 13, 2008 07:57,   


As measures have been suggested to encourage U.S. beef exporters to voluntarily come up with measures to prevent beef from cattle aged 30 months or older from being exported to Korea, there have been arguments for and against the measure among U.S. lawmakers representing the U.S. “beef belt.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, stressed, “We signed a deal. Both sides have to live up to the deal.” In his speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Baucus said, “Pressured by the public opinion, the Korean government is backing down on its promise to open up its market to the U.S. beef. It is really hard for the U.S. Congress to ratify the free trade agreement between the United States and Korea.”

On the other hand, Senator John Thune of South Dakota wrote on his Web site, “I’m willing to support having the United States ship beef products from U.S. beef cattle less than 30 months old until the South Korean people regain confidence in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. If the South Korean government accepts beef products from animals less than 30 months old, I see no need to renegotiate the April 18th agreement at this time."

The ruling Grand National Party’s representatives who just came back from their trip to the United States to talk about beef import made similar remarks.

Hwang Jin-ha, the Grand National Party’s second chairman of the policy coordination committee, said, “The U.S. Congress has shown more flexible stance towards recent disputes over beef imports than the U.S. administration. U.S. lawmakers asked us to understand their responsibility to represent residents in their districts.”

He added, “We let them know that Koreans have raised their voice for renegotiation. But, a majority of them were unwilling to approve renegotiation.”