December 03,2006

Baucus Conditions Support For US-Korea FTA On Korea’s Full Acceptance Of U.S. Beef

Senator Urges Koreans to Fully Open Market To U.S. Beef

Gallatin Gateway, MT – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Democrat on theU.S. Senate Finance Committee, today ate a Montana T-bone steak in front of majorKorean news outlets to prove the point that U.S. beef is safe and that Korea must fullyopen its markets to all U.S. beef – boneless, bone-in, and offals. Baucus is in Montanato kick off a fifth round of trade negotiations for the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.As part of these negotiations, Baucus is insisting Korea open its market to U.S. beef. Hemade that point clear to Ambassador Tae Sik Lee and to Korean press today.

“I have a beef with Korea,” Baucus told Korean reporters before a meeting with the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. and top officials from both countries. “Our beef is the safest, highest quality in the world. Korea’s beef ban, including its rejection of two U.S. beef shipments this week, is not based on sound science. If we are to moveforward with full trade between our two countries, this ban cannot stand.”

Korea closed its market to U.S. beef imports in 2003, following reports of bovinespongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, from cattle that originated in Canada. Prior to theban, the U.S. beef industry sold about $800 million to Korea, one of Montana's largestexport markets. Korea partially opened its market in September of this year to beefimports from cattle under the age of 30 months, but the country continues to prohibit beefproducts that contain bone material. International scientific standards support the safetyof U.S. beef – whether boneless and bone-in – regardless of age.

The senior U.S. senator called a news conference with top Korean media outlets before abrunch at the Gallatin Gateway Inn near Bozeman. A chef then presented Baucus a primeMontana-raised T-bone, which he took a bite of and then said in Korean, "Ma shuh soomnee dah," which in English means "This is very delicious."

“We in Montana know how good our beef is. I want to make sure the Korean people do too,”
Baucus said. “Montana cattle producers are ready to do business.”

In January, Baucus will become chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, whichhas jurisdiction over international trade agreements.

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