Lee Hye-min, South Korea's Deputy Trade Minister, says that he does not expect the U.S. Congress to pass the pending South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement unless Korea resumes full imports of U.S. beef.
Korea has only accepted boneless U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months old since resuming imports this year. But with for the FTA to get a majority vote in Congress, South Korea may need to resume all U.S. beef products, even bone-in-beef.
The two countries signed the FTA in advance of the Bush administration's Trade Promotion Authority expiration, meaning Congress will be required to give the deal a simple up or down vote.
The pact would phase out 95% of tariffs on commodities over three years, and could increase trade between the countries by as much as $20 billion. Two-way trade between U.S. and South Korea is currently about $79 billion a year.