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Thune Comments on South Korean Announcement to Honor Beef Trade Agreement with the United States

-- South Korea's Latest Announcement is Welcome News for Cattle Producers --

June 21, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD —  Senator John Thune commented today on South Korea's long overdue decision to import US beef. The South Korean government today announced that, as a result of recent discussions in Washington, Korea will put into effect the April 18th beef import protocol agreed to by the two governments and pave the way for U.S. beef to flow into the Korean market.

"Access for U.S. beef to South Korea is long overdue. I am very pleased the South Korean government and U.S. Trade Representative have reached agreement on this critical issue," said Thune.

"On June 10th and 11th, I held two meetings with South Korean officials, one with four members of the Korean Assembly, followed by a meeting with South Korean Trade Ambassador Let Tae-Sik. At these meetings I strongly urged them to honor the protocol without modifications, and that I would support initially shipping 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," said Thune.

On April 18, 2008, the United States and the South Korean government entered into an agreement to resume shipments of all beef products from cattle of all ages consistent with World Animal Health Organization guidelines. However, the South Korean government later backed away from this agreement, prolonging the ban on U.S. beef imports.

In 2003, the South Korean beef market was valued at over $800 million and was the third largest importer of U.S. beef. Opening the South Korean market to U.S. beef could potentially result in more than $1 billion in trade to the U.S. beef industry annually.

"This is very welcome news for South Dakota cattlemen and its beef industry," commented Thune.