Korea-Australia FTA Captures Attention of Canada, New Zealand

In addition to finalizing a free trade agreement with Australia last week, South Korean trade officials also recently resumed their long-stalled FTA negotiations with Canada. Canada is already the only major pork supplier serving Korea without an FTA in place, and the Korea-Australia FTA (which is expected to take effect in 2015) could put Canada’s beef industry in a similar position. Few details have emerged from the latest talks between the two countries, but news reports suggest that differences were narrowed in several key issues.

These developments have created a greater sense of urgency for New Zealand’s beef and lamb industries. In a news release issued Dec. 10, Beef and Lamb New Zealand stated that without an FTA, New Zealand’s producers will find it difficult to remain competitive in Korea.

Through October, Korea’s imports of New Zealand beef totaled 26,347 mt, down 6 percent from a year ago. Imports were valued at $98.4 million, down 3 percent. Compared to last year, New Zealand’s share of the Korean beef market fell from 11.25 percent to 10.5 percent in terms of volume, and from 8.7 percent to 7.8 percent in value. Australia holds about 88 percent of the Korean lamb market, with the remainder captured by New Zealand.

Korea’s imports of Canadian beef are up substantially from last year, but still represent a very small share of the market. Through October, imports totaled 1,814 mt (+58 percent from a year ago) valued at $8.2 million (+54 percent). This raised Canada’s imported beef market share from about 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent. Korea’s imports of Canadian pork totaled 34,419 mt (-33 percent from a year ago) valued at $64.4 million (-46 percent). Canada now holds about 12.5 percent of Korea’s imported pork market in terms of volume, and about 8 percent in value. In addition, Chile has surpassed Canada as Korea’s No. 2 supplier of chilled pork this year (the United States ranks No. 1), even though Korea’s imports of Chilean pork are down slightly from a year ago.

(Data source: Global Trade Atlas)