The United States has been working with Thailand and other countries around the world to remove the remaining restrictions on imports of U.S. beef. Upon review, Thailand determined that U.S. control measures assure the safety of U.S. beef and lifted its ban on most imports of U.S. beef.
"I commend Thailand officials for reopening their market to U.S. beef and recognizing that it is among the safest in the world. It is now time for Japan, South Korea, China, and other Asian markets to follow suit. There is no justifiable reason for borders to be closed to U.S. beef," says Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.
"We are pleased that Thailand has decided to reopen its market to U.S. beef," adds U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman. "I applaud Thailand's move, which reflects the spirit of the close trade relationship we are seeking to enhance through our Free Trade Agreement."
Thailand has prohibited imports of U.S. beef since December 2003, following the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a single cow of Canadian origin in Washington State.
Thailand represents a growing market for U.S. beef once trade resumes and upon the completion and implementation of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). U.S. agricultural exports to Thailand increased 67% since 1999, from $409 million to a record $685 million in 2004, making it the 17th largest market for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
In 2003, President Bush announced his intent to enter into FTA negotiations with Thailand in accordance with the legislative procedures specified by Congress. The United States and Thailand have held five rounds of FTA negotiations, and will meet again in November.