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Canada Seeks WTO Help in Resuming Beef Imports

Posted April. 11, 2009 06:38,   


Canada urged the World Trade Organization yesterday to force Korea to lift a ban on Canadian beef imports.

Korea`s Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said Ottawa filed a complaint saying Korea’s ban on Canadian beef imports and a Korean livestock epidemic law violate WTO rules.

Canadian Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz indicated the WTO consultations in talks with Korean Agriculture Minister Chang Tae-pyong last month. Ritz asked for the resumption of Canadian beef imports by the end of March.

Ritz said at the time that resumption of Canadian beef imports remained unresolved over the past six years, citing the time to move forward. He also said Korea should recognize the safety of Canadian beef as the World Organization for Animal Health officially categorized Canadian beef as safe.

To this, Seoul said it cannot resume Canadian beef imports within the first half of the year since time is needed to formulate a public consensus for the safety of Canadian beef.

Korea proposed separate technical talks in June, when the WTO will make a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement. Canada rejected this and chose WTO consultations.

As Canada requested a bilateral consultation with Korea, the first step in working out a trade dispute under WTO rules, Korea has 30 days to respond to the consultation. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement within 60 days after the request, the matter will be referred to a dispute settlement panel.

Minister Chang told a news conference Thursday that the government will respond in an active manner, adding, “If bilateral negotiations are possible in the dispute settlement process, we will hold them to settle the matter.”

Korea suspended Canadian beef imports in May 2003 when the North American country`s first mad cow disease broke out. After the World Organization for Animal Health officially categorized Canada, along with the United States, as a controlled BSE risk country in May 2007, Canada began pressing Korea to resume imports.

Seoul and Ottawa held bilateral negotiations in November last year, when Canada`s 15th case of mad cow disease was confirmed, but made no progress.