Eleven months ago, South Korea placed a short-term ban on Canadian beef in response to the detection of BSE – or mad cow disease – in Canada.
On 30 December 2015 – a day before the one-year anniversary of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) – Canada confirmed the ban had been lifted after an inspection concluded the BSE case was an isolated incident.
A post on the official Twitter account of the department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) confirmed that the South Korean market for beef and veal had been “reopened”.
And in a statement published by the department, Lawrence MacAulay, minister of AAFC, said: “Our government welcomes South Korea’s decision to lift its temporary ban on Canadian beef and veal products. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the competitiveness and long-term prosperity of our agricultural sector.”
Top beef market
Prior to the suspension of trade in 2014, South Korea was one of Canada’s top export markets for beef and was valued at around $26m. Only the US, Australia and New Zealand sold more beef to South Korea that year.
The resumption of beef trade with the country has been hailed by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Solverson as “important”.
“South Korea holds huge potential for beef and especially cuts and offals that are under-utilised here at home. Korea is a market that will pay more for those select items and that helps to increase the overall value of the animal for producers,” he said.
Joe Reda, president of the Canadian Meat Council, echoed Solverson’s words, claiming Canada’s meat sector was a “driver of economic growth and a provider of jobs” in the country.
“When meat exports increase, sales opportunities for farmers rise, job opportunities for workers expand, and Canadians benefit from greater economic growth,” Reda added.
Before fears of mad cow disease caused a number of countries to sever ties with Canadian beef in 2014, Canada exported beef to more than 60 markets, for a total value of $1.9bn.
South Korea is yet to release an official statement on the resumption of beef exports.