South Korea lifts ban on Canadian beef

South Korea lifted its ban on Canadian beef Dec. 30, which it imposed when Canada reported a case of BSE in a cow tested last February.

An investigation of the BSE case, which was Canada’s 19th, indicated it was likely due to old contaminated feed and was considered an isolated incident.

Federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay and international trade minister Chrystia Freeland announced the reopening of the South Korean beef market Dec. 31 in Ottawa.

MacAulay said he welcomed the decision, and Freeland noted the news came on the one-year anniversary of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.

South Korea was Canada’s sixth-largest market for beef in 2014. Exports at that time were worth $26 million.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Solverson said resumption of beef and veal trade with South Korea is important, in part because that country accepts cuts and offal that are less popular in North America.

“Korea is a market that will pay more for those select items, and that helps to increase the overall value of the animal for producers,” he said in a news release.

The Canadian Meat Council also welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“When meat exports increase, sales opportunities for farmers rise, job opportunities for workers expand and Canadians benefit from greater economic growth,” said council president Joe Reda in a separate news release.

Jim Laws, executive director of the meat council, said South Korea is projected to import more than 400,000 tonnes of beef and veal this year.

“Successful completion of the technical discussions permits this country’s packers and processors to not only renew but also to further intensify our relationships with Korean importers and consumers,” he said in a statement.

“It also allows our exporters to take full advantage of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement that will begin its second full year of implementation on Jan. 1, 2016.”

Canada was the fourth largest exporter of beef to South Korea in 2014, behind Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released the findings of its investigation on the 19th BSE case Nov. 30, nine months after the animal was found to be infected.

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