October 14, 2008
Almost a year after their talks were suspended, Korea will begin negotiations with Canada on beef imports in early November, said officials in Seoul yesterday, Monday, 13 October 2008.
Korea banned Canadian beef in May 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was reported in the country. Canada was previously the fourth-biggest exporter of beef to South Korea, behind the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Officials at the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said working-level officials from the two countries will hold technical consultations on beef in Seoul from Monday, 3 November 2008.
The latest round of bilateral talks was held in Seoul in late November last year, but both sides failed to reach any agreement.
A ministry official said beef talks with the US concluded that the government cannot delay negotiations with Canada any longer, with expectations of Canada to accept a proposal to allow the import of bone-in beef less than 30 months old with certain specified risk materials to be excluded.
Specified risk materials or SRMs, refer to brains, eyes, tonsils and intestine parts which run the highest risk of transmitting bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, to humans.
Canada has demanded that Korea lift all restrictions on beef imports after the World Organization for Animal Health in May last year gave Ottawa a controlled risk classification, which technically allows it to export all beef parts with the exception of certain SRMs.
The planned talks with Canada took place after Korea eliminated almost all restrictions on the import of US beef in June this year, nearly five years after a total ban was imposed.