After spending a week promoting U.S. Agriculture exports at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Hong Kong, Secretary Mike Johanns returned to Washington hopeful that markets still closed to U.S. beef exports may soon open.
Highlights of his trip include a meeting with South Koreaâ€™s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Hong-Soo Park, concerning the resumption of beef trade with the United States. It was announced in Hong Kong that South Koreaâ€™s Animal Health Commission made a positive recommendation to allowing U.S. beef back into the country. South Korea remains the final major export marked closed after the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was found in the United States in 2003.
Johanns also met with Hong Kongâ€™s Commerce Secretary John Tsang and Chinaâ€™s Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin to press for the opening of those markets to U.S. beef. A Chinese technical team visited the United States in November to review U.S. safeguards against BSE.
Johanns and Du also signed an agreement to create a joint Animal and Plant Health Working Group under the Joint Committee on Cooperation in Agriculture. Composed of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Food Safety Inspection Service and Foreign Agriculture Service representatives, the working group will address sanitary and phytosanitary issues by exchanging scientific and technical information and promote cooperative efforts on domestic animal and plant health regulatory initiatives in both countries.