News Releases

Date: 3/14/2006

Title: South Korea FTA Promising for Cattle Industry

WASHINGTON - The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the voice of the U.S. cattle industry, is testifying before the U.S. Government Interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) today regarding the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). NCBA has released the following statement from Vice President of Government Affairs Jay Truitt:

“Not since the Japan-U.S. Beef-Citrus Agreement of 1988 have U.S. cattle producers had such an opportunity to expand demand for our products as we could have with a successfully negotiated U.S.-South Korea FTA. Historically, South Korea represents the third largest market for U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports and holds tremendous growth potential.

“Right now, U.S. beef exports into South Korea face extremely high tariffs, bound at 40 percent. Breaking down these barriers to entry would be a tremendous growth opportunity for U.S. cattle producers, and we are committed to improving our access to this market. Cattle producers seek significant initial reductions of South Korea’s high tariffs, and eventually their full elimination.

“We expect to see a full lifting of South Korea’s protracted ban on previously top-selling U.S. beef products (bone-in beef and variety meats), which dates back to December 2003. These products historically accounted for roughly half the total value of U.S. beef exports to South Korea. NCBA remains mystified as to how $47 million in beef variety meats were excluded from this initial trade resumption package.

“U.S. cattle producers urge trade negotiators to follow World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines in the negotiation of all agreements. There is no legitimate reason for South Korea’s sustained ban on safe U.S. beef products, and it must be lifted by the time this agreement is sent to Congress for approval. NCBA expects nothing short of a full re-opening of this market to all U.S. beef exports.

“We are also adamant that sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues be resolved in the context of the free trade agreement negotiations. The SPS and plant equivalency precedents now firmly established in recently negotiated free trade agreements are the only way to assure real and unfettered access for U.S. beef producers into the South Korean market. We expect these precedents to be retained and continually improved upon in a South Korean FTA and all subsequent FTAs.

“NCBA members have consistently been leaders in the promotion of reliable, free and fair trade across the globe. We support international trade policies that aggressively pursue expanded market access for U.S. beef. Globally, various SPS issues, non-tariff barriers, high tariffs, and sometimes egregious subsidies limit our ability to compete.

“We continue to believe now more than ever that the international marketplace is where the future success of this industry will be decided. With 96 percent of the world’s population living outside our borders, we must look abroad to generate new markets and expand existing markets. The U.S.-South Korea FTA could be a critical component of the U.S. beef industry’s formula for future success.

“We support the launch of these negotiations and look forward to working with the U.S. and South Korean governments to negotiate a comprehensive, commercially viable U.S.-South Korea FTA.”

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