Korea delays U.S. beef imports again

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Korean government bowed to pressure from citizens and opposition parties and has again delayed a decision to resume U.S. beef imports.

The Korean government made an official announcement last week that it would allow quarantine inspections to resume, following the April 18 agreement reached between the two nations. Procedural steps to lift the ban were supposed to be completed on Tuesday 3 June.

This development now increases the uncertainty in the Korean market for both importers and exporters. It is not clear how long the latest delay will last, however there are estimates of up to three months to come to a deal.

Preparations will begin in July for Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok), a peak beef consumption period which falls in September. Potentially, this will mean a boost in demand for Australian product for this period, particularly given the recent run down in imported beef stocks in anticipation of the U.S. return.

According to AFP, thousands of protesters have staged regular candle-lit demonstrations, which have recently escalated to violent clashes with riot police, demanding the ban on U.S. beef remain in place. They claim the government has not secured safeguards against the alleged dangers posed by the human form of mad cow disease.