Before a case of bovine spongiform disorder was discovered in the U.S. in late 2003, South Korea was one of the largest markets for U.S. beef. A crucial step has been made towards restoring that market, as for the first time since lifting its ban on U.S. beef in September of 2006, South Korea accepted a shipment of U.S. beef Friday.
The previous three shipments of U.S. beef had been rejected, with Seoul citing materials in the beef, such as bone fragments and toxins, that violated strict South Korean restrictions on U.S. beef.
South Korea's may loosen those restrictions and accept more shipments ahead of a pending free trade agreement between the two countries. The rejected beef shipments were a contentious issue in the FTA negotiations.
"While we are pleased to see more sensible inspection protocols in place in South Korea, there is still more work to be done to rebuild the trading relationship between our two countries," the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says in an officials statement. "With at least $815 million in beef sales at stake and a free trade agreement pending, further positive steps need to be taken."