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South Korea reopens market to U.S. poultry

USDA helped to encourage regionalized bans to preserve billions in U.S. poultry exports.

South Korea fully reopened its market for U.S. fresh/frozen poultry, after halting imports due to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)-related concerns in 2015. With this announcement, U.S. poultry processed after June 1, 2016 may be shipped to South Korea starting July 8, 2016.

U.S. poultry meat and poultry meat products to Korea were severely impacted, with exports valued at $21.7 million in 2015 compared to $122.3 million in 2014, an 82% decline.   

South Korea opened its market for poultry briefly in November 2015, but subsequently it again halted imports of poultry meat from birds processed after HPAI was identified in Indiana in January 2016. It is estimated that $11.7 million of eligible U.S. poultry and poultry meat products were exported to South Korea between January and May 2016.

“Following extensive engagement with USDA’s technical experts, the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has announced that U.S. poultry producers can again export to customers in South Korea,” said secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack said. “By persuading other trading partners to enforce regionalized bans that affect only those areas where HPAI was detected, and to rely on internationally accepted science-based standards for trade, USDA has helped preserve billions in U.S. poultry exports.”

Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, added the reopening is welcome news as it is a significant market for U.S. broilers that had essentially been closed since December 2014.  

“NCC is appreciative of the administration and those members of Congress who have been working diligently to reopen this important export destination, leaving China as the only country with an active HPAI ban on U.S. poultry imports. The next step is for Korea to adopt a policy of regionalization in the event of future HPAI incidents, which USDA, APHIS and the industry have been advocating for more than a year,” NCC said.

Vilsack said in 2015, despite the HPAI outbreak, U.S. poultry and poultry product exports reached $4.6 billion. “This action will support USDA’s continued work with other countries to lift remaining HPAI-related restrictions. USDA also will work with South Korea to try and avoid future nationwide restrictions,” Vilsack noted.

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