U.S. beef has claimed more than 50 percent of Korea's imported beef market for the first time since 2003.
U.S. beef imports stood at US$989 million by October this year, accounting for 50.7 percent of the total imports and leading the market here, the Korea International Trade Association said on Monday.
American beef had lost the top spot to Australian beef since its share plunged to 17.5 percent in the wake of mad cow disease in the U.S. in 2003. But it has gradually regained demand as tariffs started to drop under the free trade agreement with the U.S., which took effect in 2012, claiming a some 40 percent share by 2014.
"Korea has agreed to phase out tariffs on beef over 15 years under free trade agreements with the U.S. and Australia," said Kim Kyung-hun, a senior researcher at the KITA. "However, tariffs on American beef are dropping faster, as the FTA with the U.S. took effect two years earlier."
Korea currently imposes a 24 percent tariff on American beef and 29.3 percent on Australian beef.