The South Korean government has officially recognized the European Union’s (EU) animal disease control practices, opening up the possibility of increased poultry and pork exports from Europe to East Asian countries.
Regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and African swine fever (ASF), the European Commission (EC) reports that the accreditation will facilitate future exports of poultry and pork products from the EU to South Korea.
The agreement by the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture could result in an additional EUR 1 billion ($990 million) in trade in the next few years.
Previously, South Korea had put in place long-term barriers banning the export of poultry and pork products from EU countries where any of these diseases were confirmed. Although intended, the ban applied to all countries. However, the Ministry of Agriculture now recognizes the effectiveness of EU member states’ strict regionalization measures.
The relaxation of restrictions applies to 11 countries permitted to export poultry and poultry products to South Korea. These are Germany, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, France, Finland, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Lithuania. 14 Member States also benefit from this for exports of pork and pork products. This applies to the same countries as poultry (except Lithuania), but includes Slovakia, Austria, Ireland and Portugal. Following recent decisions, South Korea has brought its import requirements in line with its commitments under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Animal health is a key priority in the EU for the European Commission, which is responsible for health and food safety.
“Protecting animal health is our number one priority. In the EU, we have strong and effective measures against African swine fever and avian flu,” said Stella Kyriakides. “The resumption of trade between South Korea and the EU is a success and recognition of these efforts, and will bring great benefits to European producers in the current difficult economic climate.”
She confirmed the region’s commitment to combating these diseases and also emphasized that EU food exports will continue to meet the highest standards of both animal health and food safety.
Executive Vice President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis commented on the benefits of South Korea’s recent trade decisions for both parties. “Today’s decision by South Korea to lift restrictions on European pork and poultry exports should improve export opportunities in a sector facing tight controls,” he said. “We are fulfilling our commitment to supporting the EU agricultural sector while ensuring that Korean consumers benefit from his high quality EU products.”
He also expressed hope that more of his EU trading partners would come to recognize his EU animal disease regionalization system.
A free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea, introduced provisionally in 2011, was formally ratified at the end of 2015.
According to EG, this is the first trade deal with an Asian country and was an important development as it removed more trade barriers than previous EU agreements. Most of the import tariffs were eliminated in 2011, while most of the remaining tariffs were eliminated in 2016. Some agricultural products are still subject to tariffs.
After ten years of free trade agreements in force, the EC has summarized the implications for bilateral trade in goods and services. Trade in agricultural products increased gradually during this period until in 2021 he reached 3.9%. The share of agricultural products in total EU exports to South Korea increased from 5.3% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2021.
According to EU Member States, more than 2.22 million tonnes of pork (slaughtered weight) were exported between January and June 2022. It was worth over €5 billion. Trade volumes are down 25.5 from the corresponding figures in 2021. Of the total, China accounts for 676,000 tons and South Korea nearly 185,000 tons.
In the first six months of 2022, EU poultry meat exports were around 624,000 tonnes (slaughter weight), according to the same source. In the top destinations Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this number decreased by 13% year-on-year.
For both meats, the figures given exclude trade with former EU member United Kingdom (United Kingdom).
Since the end of 2021, outbreaks of HPAI and ASF in wildlife and domestic animals have been documented not only in EU Member States and South Korea, but also in other parts of the world.
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