Push to Australia-Korea trade deal

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Friday, June 29, 2007

The Australian beef industry is pushing for free trade negotiations with Korea to be fast-tracked.

The bid is aimed to defend its No1 position in the market from aggressive moves by the United States.

The US is jostling for some last-minute gains from its free trade agreement with Korea, with the American beef lobby demanding the dropping of BSE-related import restrictions before giving their support to the FTA.

But even if the FTA Bill is passed by the American Senate in its current form, it will still progressively remove all tariffs on US beef entering Korea over the next 15 years.

That situation could place Australian beef at a distinct price disadvantage - it is currently lumped with a 40% tariff - if the Federal Government does not negotiate an equivalent deal.

But Meat and Livestock Australia manager for international markets and trade, Andrew McCallum, said the process for an Australian-Korean FTA, which began in April this year, could take up to three years.

Korea is Australia's third largest beef market, growing by 34% in 2006 to be valued at $827 million.