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Korean National Assembly lifted the ban on French beef importation after 23 years

Korean National Assembly lifted the ban on French beef importation after 23 years

The importation of French beef is set to resume in South Korea after a 23-year ban imposed in 2000 due to the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow disease), which is a significant development that has been eagerly awaited by the French-Korean business community and repeatedly requested by the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) and the French Embassy to South Korea. The ban was finally lifted on December 20th, following the passage of a bill in the National Assembly.

The Korean government led the initiative to restart beef imports from France by introducing a bill in the National Assembly to lift the ban in February 2021, conducting a safety assessment, and holding an administrative preview. Though discussions were suspended in 2022, they resumed on October 31, 2023, with a hearing of industry specialists and experts by the National Assembly committee in charge of agricultural issues, and the “Sanitary Conditions for Importing Beef from France” bill was passed on December 20th during the National Assembly plenary session. 

The Ministry has been collecting public opinions until January 10th, as required by law. At this stage, the Korean administration must discuss the application of the law with France, particularly regarding the plant approval procedure.

Depending on the outcome of those discussions, imports could commence in the second half of this year. This development marks a significant milestone in the resumption of trade relations, highlighting the collaborative efforts made by both French and Korean authorities.

The EU ranks third in beef production worldwide as of 2020, with France being a strong exporter within the EU, holding a 21.2% share. Following France, eight other EU countries, including Germany, Belgium, and Sweden, are also in the process of allowing beef imports. Additionally, more European beef is expected to enter the Korean market as beef tariffs will be eliminated in 2027 under the Korea-EU FTA.

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