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Korea Grain market - Agricultural imports Regulations being revised today
The Korea Herald, March 29, 2004
Under its international trade obligations, the government said it would expand import volumes on 14 items, including corn, beans, soybeans and sesame, by 82.2 percent, or 5.3 million metric tons, to 11.7 million tons. The original target was 6.43 million tons.

The change will go into effect immediately, with regulations to be revised today, according to the Ministry of Finance and Economy.

The ministry said yesterday that the imports needed to be increase to counter a possible upswing in domestic commodity prices.

By item, volume of processed corn imports used for popcorn will increase by 4.30 million tons to 10.4 million tons, potatoes for potato chips by 7,300 tons to 26,100 tons, red beans for baked and ice cream goods by 5,000 tons to 19,700 tons, and corn as fodder by 100 tons to 400 tons.

Soybeans for producing tofu, fermented soybean paste and soy sauce will increase by 192,000 tons to 295,000 tons, while sesame, a major ingredient of cooking oil and Korean traditional cookies, will expand by 87,300 tons to 94,000 tons.

Tariffs also are to be lowered by as much as 40 percent, but with the exception of sesame and red beans, the ministry said the reductions would not have a significant impact on market prices since they are sold in whole quantities, are processed or used as feed.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries yesterday said it would begin two days of negotiations tomorrow in Beijing on opening up Korea's rice market.

Officials here described the talks as an exchange of information and said they did not expect significant progress toward an agreement.

The Korean government noted that should the country further open its market, it would have to consider the quality and cost of Chinese rice, whose competitiveness lags compared with the United States.

Last Friday, the Korean government said it would soon begin negotiations with Australia under the framework of the World Trade Organization. Korea expressed its interest in such an agreement to the WTO on Jan. 20.

The 1994 Uruguay Round negotiations permitted Korea to have minimum market access, allowing rice exporters to have access of up to 4 percent of the domestic rice market.

The government last Friday said that it expected major rice exporters, such as the United States, China and Thailand, to seek negotiations with Korea on liberalization of the rice market by April 20, which is when the 90-day application period for talks expires under WTO regulations.

Korea is to conclude the talks by the end of this year under the 1994 Uruguay Round agreement, which permitted the government to delay imposing tariffs on rice imports for up to 10 years.

Since the 1990s, imports of foreign foods have been steadily affecting the nation's agriculture sector.
MGR Archive 29.3.2004
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