EU beef exports to Korea resume after nearly 20 years

After almost 20 years, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) lifted its import restrictions on beef and beef products from some European Union member states.

Producers from Denmark and the Netherlands are the first ones to be able to resume exports, according to the European Commission today, Friday, September 27.

The opening of the Korean market has been possible thanks to consistent efforts undertaken jointly by the European Commission and EU member states.

The removal of the trade restrictions imposed in 2001 in reaction to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak has been described as “a sign of well-deserved trust in the EU’s comprehensive, multi-layered and very efficient food safety and animal health control system”, according to the European authority.

The commission said it will continue to work closely with the Korean authorities to secure market access for the remaining member states that are still awaiting export approval for beef and beef products – including Ireland, which is currently at “step five of an eight-step process“.

During a meeting held on September 4, on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, Korean authorities provided assurances that the pending applications from EU member states – apart from Denmark and the Netherlands – would be processed in due time.

Commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, said: “This is a very welcome development and an important statement of confidence by the South Korean authorities in the safety and quality of European beef.

“Following confirmation of access for Danish and Dutch operators, I hope that it won’t be long before operators in other EU member states are approved for export to this important and valuable market.

Securing access for other EU member states will continue to be a priority for the European Commission in bilateral trade relations with Korea.

The EU and Korea are since 2011 linked by a trade agreement and the European Commission looks forward to ensuring that both parties are able to realise the full potential of this agreement.

The EU-Korea trade agreement has helped intensify exchanges, resolve numerous trade impediments on both sides and increase bilateral agri-food trade by 10% per year.

Now, that the sanitary restrictions on Danish and Dutch beef are lifted, “producers from those countries will finally be able to enjoy the tariff reductions available under the agreement”, the commission concluded.