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U.S. challenges S. Korea's ban on poultry imports

The United States has taken issue with South Korea's decision to ban imports of U.S. poultry following the discovery of highly pathogenic bird flu cases in Washington and Oregon, the Seoul government said Thursday.

In December, South Korea banned imports of all poultry products from America after two wild birds were determined to have contracted the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

According to Seoul's trade and industry ministry, the United States Trade Representative said in its latest trade barriers report that the import ban conflicts with directives issued by the World Organization for Animal Health.

The Paris-based organization said import bans should be implemented on products from regions reporting HPAI and not a blanket ban for all meat from a country.

The USTR claims South Korea's farm-related safety standards lack transparency and predictability, arguing that there have been persistent delays by the Seoul government in authorizing trade of new food products, according to the ministry.

Besides poultry, the representative office said Seoul's revised automobile management act, which makes it mandatory for import cars to disclose previous repair records, unfairly hurt foreign-made brands.

The USTR also said that ambiguity in the sending of local financial data abroad and delays in getting authorization for such transfers have caused many U.S. firms to express frustration.

Washington, however, said that South Korea was adhering faithfully to agreements reached on the import of beef from animals less than 30 month old, according to the ministry. The age limit was imposed after the United States reported a few mad cow disease cases in the past. (Yonhap)

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