South Korea looks to boost rice exports

rice-SKSouth Korea has been exempted from liberalising its rice market for 20 years due to the 1994 Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. (Image source: Lihi Koren/Flickr)South Korea has announced that it aims at increasing its rice exports after export restrictions are lifted on the staple grain from March 2015

The Ministry of Trade of South Korea said, “The move comes as the country continues to face a possible oversupply of rice while its per capita consumption of the staple crop continues to drop.”

Kang Hye-young, head of Ministry of Trade of South Korea, added that the country has also imposed a tariff of 513 per cent on rice imports from January 2015. The 513 per cent tariff rate still requires verification by the WTO while the country is required to import 408,700 tonnes of rice each year under a special arrangement with the WTO known as the minimum market access (MMA), he noted.

“All 408,700 tonnes of imports under MMA are only subject to a tariff rate of five per cent, keeping their prices significantly lower than those of locally produced crops. Locally produced rice may appear to have little competitiveness in terms of price, especially in the global market, but its quality finds little competition anywhere in the world,” said the minister.

According to the ministry, exporting rice can help balance out supply and demand of the grain and stabilise domestic prices.

In 2014, the country’s rice harvest hit 4.24mn tonnes, which was much higher than the annual consumption of about four million tonnes. South Korea also exported only 2,000 tonnes of rice worth US$4.72mn to 45 countries last year, revealed the ministry.

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