Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today addressed the issue of U.S. beef exports to South Korea.
“Earlier this week, I met with two high-level delegations from the Republic of Korea, who explained the concerns of the South Korean government with regards to the question of U.S. beef imports," said Congressman Faleomavaega. "While the American public might be puzzled by its importance to the people of South Korea, the prospect of importation of U.S.-raised beef to South Korea has become a volatile political issue in that country.”
“Last week, President Bush had a telephone conversation with President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea in which the beef import issue was a key topic of concern. They arrived at an informal understanding that the United States will not export to South Korea any beef products from cattle that are more than 30 months old.”
“The beef issue should not relatively impede on the full consideration of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement by the U.S. Congress or the South Korean Parliament. Both countries have much to gain by this treaty, and I am confident that we will be able to find an immediate resolution to the beef import problem before too long."
“I know that many Americans, both business leaders and consumers, are very eager to finalize the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea. At the same time, South Korean consumers are anxious about the safety of U.S.-raised beef. We should not belittle their concerns, but we should all work together to find a mutually satisfactory solution. We also must respect the political process in both of our countries. In particular, I insist that the most important thing to do now is to restore confidence of the South Korean consumers on the safety of U.S. beef. They should start exporting to the South Korean market cattle that are less than 30 months of age. U.S. beef is the best quality in the world and is usually tested with the utmost rigorous inspections prior to importation. I am confident that over time we will again be able to export cattle that are more than 30 months of age to Korea.”
“As chairman of the subcommittee that deals with regional issues in Asia and the Pacific, I will be monitoring this situation carefully. My colleagues and I in the subcommittee are keenly interested in maintaining the strong and historically friendly relationship between South Korea and the United States, a relationship that manifests our shared values of democracy, free enterprise, and peace,” concluded Congressman Faleomavaega.