Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said today that a new report from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) identifying unscientific trade barriers affecting U.S. beef exports highlights the importance of removing these barriers, particularly in Korea. Baucus has long fought unscientific restrictions on U.S. beef and has specifically called for consultations with the Korean government on a pathway to remove that country's barriers.
"The Administration recognized the unscientific restrictions on U.S. beef exports, but it is not enough to simply label these restrictions -- we must actively remove them," said Baucus. "We all agree Korea's unscientific beef restriction is a barrier to U.S. export growth, so before we enter into a Free Trade Agreement, we should insist on a pathway to eliminate these barriers. U.S. ranchers and farmers count on us to fight the restrictions limiting their market access and preventing their businesses from growing and hiring new workers, and that's exactly what this report makes clear we need to do -- in Korea and across the globe.
USTR's National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers notes specifically that in April 2008, the United States and Korea signed an agreement to fully re?open Korea's market to U.S. beef and beef products in a manner consistent with international standards and science. The World Organization for Animal Health standards show that U.S. beef is 100 percent safe, and Baucus has long advocated that the U.S. should demand that its trading partners adhere to these standards. The USTR report goes on to say that achieving full market access for U.S. beef exports to Korea remains a top priority and that the U.S. government will continue to attach importance to the beef issue and will continue to urge Korea to open its market fully, consistent with science and international standards.
Baucus has long called for the United States and Korea to negotiate an FTA to expand bilateral economic ties. The two countries entered into a Free Trade Agreement on June 30, 2007, but failed to adequately address longstanding concerns about Korea's restrictions on U.S. beef and auto exports. In April 2008, Korea agreed to open its market to all ages and cuts of U.S. beef, consistent with international scientific standards. But Korea continues to limit imports to U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months. On June 26, 2010, President Obama and President Lee agreed to resolve U.S. concerns regarding barriers to U.S. beef and auto exports. Baucus has urged Korea to agree to consultations with the United States to develop a road map leading to full market access for U.S. beef from cattle of all ages.
In addition to Korea, the report identifies several other trading partners that impose barriers affecting U.S. beef exports, including China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Baucus has urged the Administration to work to remove these and other barriers as well.