The government of South Korea will soon make a decision if the rice market will be opened to suppliers from abroad. The agriculture minister of the country said on March 3, 2014 that the move has been delayed for the past 20 years due to large import quota.

rice market

In an exclusive interview, the agriculture minister Lee Dong-phil said, “The country must give its decision on whether to open its rice market to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by September”. Lee went on to say that the government will make its decision by June 2014. The agreement that was made with the WTO in 1993 stated that the country was allowed to postpone the liberalization of rice market until 2004, in exchange for importing up to 4 percent of its rice consumption on a yearly basis.

In a later agreement, this was extended for the next ten years. The agreement mentioned that the country agreed to expand the import quota to 7.96 percent of total consumption. The agriculture minister went on to say that South Korea will once again try to delay the liberalization, but this move will not be approved by other members of WTO.

Lee also said that the government will carefully make the decision in favor of the country’s interest, as well as the rice industry. The minister also informed that the import duties of the country are likely to be set between 300 and 500 percent of the import prices, if it decides to open the rice market.

Photo Credits: Reuters Media