DAILY NEWS Dec 10, 2013 9:06 AM - 0 comments

Canada-South Korea free trade agreement talks resume; may improve access to market for beef

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SEOUL, Korea--Canadian negotiators were in Seoul, South Korea from November 25-29 for the first full negotiating round for a Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since last year. The talks have been stalled since January 2013. With a new chief negotiator having been appointed since the last meeting, it appears that Korea may be prepared to work quickly to finalize an agreement, said the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), which continues to encourage the Government of Canada to achieve an FTA with Korea as soon as possible so it can restore its position in the Korean market.

Canadian beef regained access to Korea in January 2012 following a nearly nine year BSE prohibition. When the Korea-U.S. FTA (KORUS) came into effect less than two months later, it put Canadian beef at an immediate tariff disadvantage to U.S. beef. Under the KORUS the Korean tariff on U.S. beef imports is decreasing by 2.7 percentage points per year until U.S. beef is duty free in 2026. Canadian beef (as well as Australian and New Zealand beef) will remain subject to the full 40 per cent tariff when entering Korea until Canada and Korea reach an agreement to improve access.

Korea has also been floating publically its interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To join the TPP, Korea will have to be accepted by all of the existing partners, a list which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

"We believe that Korea may be highly motivated to conclude bilateral agreements with Canada, Australia and New Zealand in order to pave their way into the TPP. Our view is that we should seize the opportunity to secure favourable access for Canadian beef into that important market," said the CCa. 

Prior to BSE, Korea was Canada's fourth largest export market, with 14,400 tonnes of Canadian beef valued at nearly $50 million exported to Korea in 2002. Canadian beef access was restored to Korea in January 2012 and the first shipments resumed in May 2012. Total shipments for the eight months of 2012 were just over 2,000 tonnes with a value of just under $10 million. Almost all of the shipments in 2012 were frozen beef. Monthly shipments throughout 2013 have steadily declined.

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