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South Korea lifts ban on Canadian beef

01-21-2012 12:44 BJT

OTTAWA, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Almost nine years after the "mad cow" disease was found in Canadian cattle, the South Korean government finally dropped its ban on Canadian beef imports.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement in Ottawa Friday.

The new agreement allows Canada to sell beef under 30 months of age, and would bring in 30 million Canadian dollars (about 29.61 million U.S. dollars) to Canadian producers by 2015, according to Canada Beef Inc., the marketing division of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

The agreement with South Korea helps "create a favorable climate which will lead to a deeper trade relationship with South Korea -- a priority market for Canada," Harper said.

Canada has been negotiating with South Korea since last June on the lifting of the ban, which was imposed in 2003 after several cattle in western Canada were found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a disease which had devastated European cattle herds in the 1990s and is infectious to humans.

South Korea was the last Asian country to maitain its restriction on Canadian beef.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast said the Canadian government had worked hard to convince South Korea that Canadian beef is safe.

"The Korean government heard our message and their decision to restore access is the direct result of our government's actions," Fast said.

Canada had also requested a World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel to review South Korea's ban, saying it was not based on scientific facts.

The case was dropped in the summer of 2011 when South Korea agreed to negotiations.

"Ultimately we were able to overcome the last few science-based issues. We were able to satisfy them that in fact Canadian beef is safe, it is the highest quality beef in the world, and the Korean market should be open to it," Fast said.

"We appreciate South Korea taking this important step," Ritz said.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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