Plan called for U.S. exporters to voluntarily limit exports of beef from cattle older than 30 months
On June 3, the Korean government asked the United States to voluntarily limit exports of beef from cattle older than 30 months. The government may have a tough time getting Washington to do this, however, as the White House has already expressed concern about the plan. Meanwhile, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow, urged Seoul to implement the beef import agreement as soon as possible.
One day ago, on June 2, Seoul delayed publishing new sanitary conditions for the importation of U.S. beef in its government newsletter, thereby effectively halting imports of the meat.
With the new request, however, the South Korean government appears to be attempting to turn the situation around using another makeshift measure but without canceling the announcement of sanitary terms or renegotiating the beef deal, the two things the citizens of Korea seem to want most.
During a briefing on June 3, Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chung Woon-chun said that the government had asked the United States to halt exports of meat from cows aged 30 months or older. The South Korean government will delay publication of the beef import terms and there will be no quarantine inspections of beef until the United States gives a reply, Chung added.
At a Cabinet meeting, also held on June 3, President Lee Myung-bak remarked, “Because of this issue, the people have lost their trust in the government. As long as people are worried and the majority of the population doesn’t want it, it is natural that the nation would not import U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months.” The suspension of both quarantine inspections and the distribution of U.S. beef being kept in warehouses throughout the nation seems aimed at accommodating the general public and quelling the anger that has escalated in recent weeks over the beef issue.
The government refuses to renegotiate on provisions related to import and sanitary conditions, but is looking for other ways to ban imports of beef from cows older than 30 months. It has been reported that the government made its request to ensure that the United States does not export beef from cattle aged 30 months or older to Korea. This was accomplished by asking exporters to voluntarily limit exports of beef from cattle older than 30 months.
A Cheong Wa Dae official explained that the problem could be resolved if U.S. exporters were to agree not to export meat from cows older than 30 months and Korean importers were to agree not to import beef from cattle over 30 months.
On the same day, however, the White House said that it had “concerns” about South Korea’s plans to turn away imports of U.S. beef from cattle more than 30 months old and said it would work with Seoul on the issue, according to an Agence France-Presse article.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, “We’re in communication with the Korean government to try to understand their plan. We’ll continue to work with the U.S. beef industry and our Korean counterparts to ensure that our concerns are addressed.”
Meanwhile, after a meeting with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the same day, Ambassador Vershbow ruled out the possibility that the beef deal could be renegotiated. He also expressed his disappointment at Korea’s having postponed the publication of the government newsletter and, along with it, resumption of U.S. beef imports. Vershbow had supported the beef agreement in April, saying that the negotiations were based on science.
During the meeting, Yoo told Vershbow that the Korean people are worried about U.S. beef from cattle older than 30 months. The ambassador responded by saying that U.S. beef was confirmed as safe by the World Organisation for Animal Health, an international agency, a year ago.
In relation to the Agriculture Ministry’s announcement, the United Democratic Party and the two other opposition parties urged the government to renegotiate the beef deal, saying that its latest move is just a temporary measure and is not legally binding. “The government can’t satisfy the people’s demand for renegotiation just by requesting that the U.S. stop beef exports. We are officially urging the U.S. government to renegotiate the beef deal in order to secure the (Korean) people’s right to protect their health from the dangers of mad cow disease and ensure our quarantine sovereignty,” UDP floor leader Won Hye-young said.
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Posted on : Jun.4,2008 13:16 KST , The HANKYOREH
Um, Lee Myungbak Government is loosing trust of people.
He just has 100 days of president, but He is watching candlelight demo of people over than 30 days.