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S. Korean biz community to send delegation to U.S. over free trade deal
SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said Monday that it will send a delegation comprised of business leaders to the United States this week to promote support for a pending free trade deal with the U.S.

   The delegation, led by KCCI chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, will meet businessmen and politicians there during the week-long stay that starts on Tuesday, the KCCI said.

   The two countries signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007 after nearly two years of negotiations, but the accord still awaits ratification in the legislatures of both countries.

   In June of this year, U.S. President Barack Obama said he hoped to see outstanding issues in a bilateral free trade accord with South Korea resolved before year's end so that his government could ask Congress to approve the agreement early next year.

   Many lawmakers in the U.S. have complained about the pact's auto provisions, which they claim do too little to tear down South Korea's "non-tariff barriers" for U.S. auto imports.

   The U.S. also wants South Korea to lift restrictions on the shipment of beef.

   South Korea imports beef only from cattle less than 30 months old due to fear of mad cow disease.

   The United States recorded three cases of the disease between 2003 and 2006. In response, Seoul banned imports of U.S. beef in 2003 before shipments resumed in late 2008, which led to months of street rallies.

   U.S. beef exports to South Korea reached US$216 million last year, making South Korea the fourth-biggest importer of U.S. beef products, according to industry statistics.

   sam@yna.co.kr
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