What's Korea's Beef With American Meat? (Sen. Max Baucus)

The pending US-Korea free trade agreement still doesn’t have a spot on the Finance Committee’s agenda for this year.  It’s disappointing, because this pact with America’s seventh-largest trading partner would be an economic boost to both our countries.  But Korea has to keep its promises on U.S. beef imports before I’ll ask Committee members to approve an agreement expanding our trade.

The world’s leading animal health organization, OIE, has certified all U.S. beef -- bone-in, boneless, regardless of age -- as perfectly safe.  Just this week, Korea stopped inspecting and admitting American beef imports because they were mistakenly sent a shipment containing some bone fragments.   There’s no science to support that action.  It’s just another stalling tactic.  And I’m frankly tired of it.  U.S. beef is the safest in the world, and the most delicious -- particularly when it’s from my home state of Montana.

Korean officials say our nations’ free trade agreement should move forward whether beef issues are resolved or not.  But if Korea refuses to be a good trading partner on beef when all the available science and international standards support the safety of our supply, how can we trust their trade commitments on other issues?   Beef is obviously critical for my state.  But other members also have very serious concerns, including those related to rice and autos.  So it’s time for Korea to keep its promises on beef.  Americans and Koreans alike have much to gain from healthy, fair trade between our two countries.