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S. Korea Faces challenges to provide rice aid to North
South Korea could have difficulty offering rice aid to its poverty-stricken communist neighbor, North Korea, as a world trade body is poised to toughen its rules on global food assistance, officials said Sunday.

According to officials at the Agriculture Ministry and Foreign Ministry, draft modalities released by Crawford Falconer, agriculture chairman of Doha Development Agenda (DDA) talks, include toughened regulations on global food assistance. A modality is a guideline to map out actions aimed at liberalizing global trade. Based on this, each country should establish its own schedule for a more open agricultural market under the DDA.

The draft modalities, released on Thursday, advise member countries not to provide food assistance in case it could have a "negative" impact on exports of other alternative agricultural products, the officials said.

Such regulations on food aid, if adopted, could cut global assistance for poor countries, they said.

South Korea is a key food donator for North Korea. It has given the North about 400,000 tons of rice every year since 2002. This year, Pyongyang is asking for 500,000 tons of rice from Seoul.

Member countries of the World Trade Organization will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the proposed new trade guidelines. South Korea's trade minister, Kim Hyun-chong, will participate in the talks, the government said.

Agreement on modalities in the DDA agriculture talks, which was supposed to have been finalized by the end of 2003, has been delayed due to wide differences among member countries on several pending issues particularly in the agricultural sector.

MGR Archive 26.6.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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