(Adds cattle futures prices in last paragraph.)
June 28 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea agreed to conditions for the resumption of beef imports from Canada, paving the way for the lifting of an eight-year-old ban imposed after an outbreak of mad-cow disease.
The government agreed to restrict shipments to beef from animals younger than 30 months, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in an e-mailed statement today. Imports may resume before the end of the year if procedural steps are completed, it said.
Before the ban was imposed in 2003, Korea was the fourth- biggest market for Canadian beef, with exports valued at C$50 million ($51 million) a year. Korea reopened its market to beef from the U.S. in June 2008.
Canada filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization in April 2009 asking Korea to lift the ban. Canada agreed to ask a WTO panel to suspend processing of the complaint once the Korean government puts out an official notification on details of the agreement to the public, today’s statement said.
The decision to lift the ban requires a review by parliament, after which the government must implement on-site inspections in Canadian packing houses before the market can be reopened, the Korean statement said.
Scientists have said humans who eat certain parts of animals infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad-cow disease, may contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a similar brain-wasting ailment.
The World Organization for Animal Health in 2007 declared Canada a “controlled BSE risk” country, the same status as the U.S. That designation has allowed Canada to ship beef to 55 countries.
South Korea imported 12,000 metric tons of the meat from Canada, or about 4 percent of purchases from overseas, in 2002, today’s statement said. The nation bought 245,000 tons of foreign beef last year, worth $1.1 billion, with Australia the biggest supplier followed by the U.S., it said.
Cattle futures are up about 24 percent in the past year. The price reached a record $1.21625 a pound on April 4 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and was last traded at $1.1130 a pound.
--Editors: Richard Dobson, Thomas Kutty Abraham
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