Canada Ag Minister Gerry Ritz told South Korean trade and ag ministers this week that South Korea has to the end of March to reopen its borders to Canadian beef or face a challenge before the World Trade Organization. Prior to the discovery of BSE in Canada six years ago, South Korea was Canada’s fourth-largest export destination for beef.

"We left the Koreans with no illusion that the free-trade agreement is on hold until we get this beef issue worked through and resolved to Canadian producers' benefit," Ritz reportedly said in a conference call, says Reuters. "It makes it very difficult to move forward when they want to just hive off a very significant part of our exports and hold it in abeyance while we move forward with all smiles and chuckles.”