Korean embassy officials were quoted last week that movement on beef trade with the U.S. could move forward early next year. South Korea partially opened its market to U.S. beef earlier this year for the first time since 2003's BSE case caused a ban on imports. However they have suspended imports on several occasions since then over bone fragments in shipments from the U.S.
USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam says restoring beef trade with South Korea would be a tremendous psychological boost to the market. Fully opening the Korean market to U.S. beef could propel them toward the significant market they were in 2003 according to Shagam.
"We shipped about 590 million pounds to Korea, which represented about 23% of U.S. exports," Shagam says. "That year actually they had just nosed out Mexico as our second most important market."
Another benefit to South Korea fully opening their market to U.S. beef would be added impetus to get the pending free trade agreement with South Korea through Congress.