Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Korean Supermarkets Won’t Sell US Beef. Time To Be a Dick.

The Seoul Shinmun reports that for the time being, major Korean supermarkets have decided NOT to sell US beef.

This stands in contrast to what they were saying at the beginning at the month, when they were saying they had no choice but to sell it because of consumer demand.

Importers, however, said they would sell US beef to wholesalers and retailers like restaurant butcher shops.

Sinsegye’s E-Mart, for instance, said Monday that it would not sell US beef, regardless of any agreement regarding imports. It said that earlier in the month, it felt it had to put it on its shelves due to demand, but rapidly deteriorating public opinion has made this impossible. It left open the possibility of selling it at some later date, but first there needed to be a public consensus on the safety of US beef.

Home Plus, meanwhile, said it had no plans to sell US beef. It said that when it contacted importers last month, the importers had raised the price, noting the popularity of US beef at major markets last year. With public opinion worsening, however, the supermarket cannot even think about selling it, regardless of how cheap it is.

Lotte Mart also said it has no plans to sell US beef, despite having been positive about the idea earlier this month.

Importers, however, plan to sell their wares as scheduled. One distributor said that while major markets have decided not to sell US beef, he understood that smaller retailers and wholesalers planned to accept deliveries. He didn’t know if the stuff, if labeled US beef, would sell with public opinion being what it is.

Major department stores that sell Korean beef, like Lotte and Sinsegye, meanwhile, have decided not to sell US beef, which will begin hitting the market from early June.

Marmot’s Note: This is complete and utter bullshit. With the market so poisoned, one wonders whether US beef will sell even if it’s allowed back into the country.

Way back when (in 2000), when Koreans got into the “Garlic War” with China, Beijing showed us the proper way to handle trade disputes with Seoul — by being a total dick:

South Korea has decided to import another 10,000 tons of garlic from China, a key trade dispute threatening local exporters of mobile phones and polyethylene goods, officials said Monday.

The decision came as Beijing set Wednesday for the deadline for Seoul to import the garlic or face a temporary ban on two major export items to China — cellular phones and polyethylene goods — in retaliation.

See? Problem solved!

Rather than have the US ambassador call up the head of the opposition to bitch like a little girl, just renegotiate the beef deal, but do so after you’ve slapped retaliatory trade measures on Korean cell phones and cars (which, if the FTA doesn’t go through, is exactly what they may get — on a permanent basis — from the Obama White House). Let the Korean public know that while for cultural and social reasons you’re unlikely to see masses of candle-toting Americans gathering on the Mall to condemn Korean trade practices, this kind of behavior does have consequences. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for all his faults, at least understood this much. I feel bad for President Lee — this isn’t his fault, after all — but he apparently needs assistance in explaining to the public what’s at stake here. I say let Washington help him out by showing them.



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