06/27/2011 12:28 EDT | Updated 08/27/2011 05:12 EDT

Canadian Beef Exports Headed Back To South Korea Soon

Janice Ravndahl/AP

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OTTAWA - South Korea says it has decided to resume imports of Canadian beef, lifting an eight-year ban imposed over fears of mad cow disease.

Seoul was the last major Asian government still banning Canadian beef imports after the industry was ravaged by the disease nearly a decade ago.

South Korea was Canada's fourth biggest beef market in 2002, before Alberta reported North America's first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, the following year.

The case, and two more in 2005, led to international bans on Canadian beef imports.

Ottawa says under the science-based agreement Korea will import Canadian beef less than 30 months of age. Such cows are believed less susceptible to the disease.

South Korea's agriculture ministry says lawmakers will review the plan. It says the Canadian government wants Seoul to start resuming beef imports by the end of this year.

On Tuesday, Canada will formally request suspension of a World Trade Organization investigation into its complaint against Seoul over the beef ban.