The U.S. Meat Export Federation is disappointed that discussions between the governments of the United States and South Korea have not resolved the issues that have stalled concurrence on the U.S./Korea Free-Trade Agreement.

"The U.S. beef and pork industries stand to benefit directly from Korea's phased elimination of duties under the FTA, and we regret that our industry members cannot yet realize those benefits," says Philip Seng, USMEF president and chief executive officer.   "We strongly support passage of the agreement at the earliest opportunity."

One of the two issues identified by the U.S. government which must be resolved before the FTA can move forward is the question of Korea's restrictions on imports of U.S. beef.

USMEF expects that the elimination of Korea's import duties, together with the associated growth in demand for U.S. beef and pork in Korea, will result in significant export gains for the U.S. red meat industry.

"We support the efforts of the U.S. negotiators to constructively engage their Korean counterparts on the remaining issues in a harmonious fashion that is consistent with the interests of both sides," Seng notes.  "We remain hopeful that the two sides will resolve these issues in the very near future."

Through August of this year, U.S. beef exports to Korea reached $345 million, up 175 percent from the same period in 2009, and U.S. beef now is back on the shelves of all of the major retailers in Korea and on the menus of many leading restaurants since being reintroduced to the market in 2008.  U.S. pork exports through August reached $128 million, a 16 percent decline from 2009.  When measured by value, South Korea is the United States' fifth-largest pork export market and fourth-largest beef market for the first eight months of 2010.

Source: USMEF