Date of this Version
The discovery in December 2003 of a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in the state of Washington led to an import-ban on U.S. beef by more than forty countries, including Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Canada. These four countries are the most lucrative destinations for U.S. beef exports, accounting for more than 90 percent of the total value. In 2004, U.S. beef exports were at 17 percent of their level in 2003, with Japan and South Korea imposing a virtually total ban, while, except for a brief time, Canada and Mexico leaving their borders partially open. Three years and several negotiations later, beef exports are now 47 percent of their 2003 level. Exports to Canada and Mexico are slightly above that, but exports to Japan and South Korea have yet to fully recover. South Korea, who opened its border to U.S. beef in 2006, banned imports again on August 2, 2007, after the discovery of a vertebral column in a beef shipment.