Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., are continuing to prod the South Korean government to open its borders to U.S. beef.
President Bush has announced his intention for the U.S. to enter into a free trade agreement with South Korea. The notification comes 90 days before he will sign the agreement and send it to Congress for its approval. Thomas and Enzi believe the U.S. would benefit from increased trade with South Korea, but said South Korea must open its borders to U.S. beef or the trade agreement won’t receive congressional consideration.
"Ongoing trade with South Korea remains important to both economies. One of Wyoming’s export industries -- soda ash -- will have expanded opportunities in the South Korean market. I’d like to see a similar result for Wyoming beef," Thomas said.
"U.S. beef is safe. Americans know that. South Koreans know that. It is time South Korea looks to the scientific evidence that tells them what they already know," said Enzi. "I think they know that in order to get this agreement finalized they will have to open their borders. I’m hopeful that they will."
President Bush intends to sign the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement in 90 days. The current agreement does not open South Korean borders to U.S. beef but South Korea has agreed to resume imports of U.S. beef "if an expected safety reclassification of U.S. meat is made by a world health group next month."
Thomas and Enzi signed a letter to the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea on May 25, 2006, with 29 other senators, emphasizing the importance of beef trade with South Korea before negotiations begin on a bilateral free trade agreement with Korea.
After signature from President Bush the agreement will be sent to Congress for approval. Within the 90 day period changes can be made to the agreement.
U.S. beef exports to South Korea have been subject to a ban since 2003 when 23 percent of total U.S. beef exports were sent to Korea.