Recent Press Releases

Thune Meets with Korean Legislators to Press for Allowing U.S. Beef into South Korea

-- Assures South Korean Delegation that U.S. Beef is Safe --

June 10, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today met with Jin Ha Hwang, Teag-Ky Kwon, Sang Hyun Yoon, and Dalgon Lee, Members of the Korean National Assembly, South Korea's legislative body, which is similar to the U.S. Congress. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the necessity of South Korea honoring its earlier commitments to open its doors to U.S. beef, as a prerequisite for U.S. Congressional approval of the entire U.S. - South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

"South Korea must allow access to U.S. beef according to the trade agreement announced by the U.S. Trade Representative on April 18th, which would have allowed the United States to resume exports of beef to South Korea," Senator Thune told the Korean Representatives. "Without a solid agreement on U.S. beef, the U.S. - South Korea Free Trade Agreement faces a steep uphill battle in the United States Senate."

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 has since backed away from this agreement, prolonging the ban on U.S. beef imports.

"I understand that the South Koreans are primarily concerned about U.S. beef from animals more than 30 months of age. To address this concern, 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," said Thune.

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.

"Reopening South Korean doors to U.S. beef would greatly benefit South Dakota's beef producers," commented Thune.