South Korea opens market to French and Irish beef

The last remaining restrictions on EU beef exports lifted

South Korea has lifted trade barriers on French and Irish beef, the country’s last remaining restrictions on European Union beef exports, Reuters reported, citing the European Commission on Thursday.

This move marks a significant development in the European beef industry, providing access to one of the world’s largest beef import markets. South Korea had banned European beef in 2000 due outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called mad cow disease. 

It had already reopened its market to Danish and Dutch beef five years ago. 

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward and the culmination of sustained action at all levels to ensure a positive outcome for European farmers,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

The EU exported 1.05 million metric tons of beef in 2023, and imported 289,000 tons, leading to a trade surplus of 761,000 tons for the sector.

Dombrovskis said he would continue working with Korean authorities to lift remaining restrictions.