March 1, 2012


South Korea to slowly reduce tax on US beef, pork imports



After the Korea-US Free-Trade Agreement kicks in on March 15, South Korea will begin to phase out the 40% tariff on imported beef for US beef imports, over a period of 15 years.


The duty rate will drop to 37.3% on March 15, then decline by 2.7% each year until 2026, explains Erin Borror, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) economist.


Borror adds the US is the only major beef supplier to have reached such an agreement with South Korea. As a result, the US beef industry's competitive advantage in the market will likely increase as time goes by.


Although some imported pork products have been entering South Korea on a duty-free basis during the past year, this was just a temporary measure to help alleviate South Korea's pork supply shortage caused by a severe foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that took place in 2010.


More gradual but permanent tariff relief for the US will be achieved thanks to the free-trade agreement. All US pork products will reach duty-free status by 2016. This schedule will provide the US with an advantage over most competitors and eventually put the US industry back on a level playing field with Chilean pork, which currently faces the lowest duty rates in the South Korean market, Borror said.

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