SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Korea Bizwire) – The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced Wednesday that it is importing 116,000 tons of rice – 25,000 tons for consumption and 91,036 for processing – to fulfil its WTO-regulated annual tariff-rate quota of 487,000 tons of rice.
South Korea was given a 20-year grace period for rice tariffs, under the condition that it would import 487,000 tons of rice each year. The country has so far imported 292,664 tons in 2016.
According to the ministry, the additional 25,000 tons of rice for consumption would make up a total of 50,000 tons imported this year, which is a 10,000-ton decline compared to 2015.
Given the country’s diminishing rice consumption, and to keep the rice market stable during the harvest season in particular, the ministry has been delaying the import procedure since September.
Although it has no choice but to import foreign rice to meet its TRQ before the end of the year, in order to prevent the value of domestically-produced rice from depreciating, the imported produce will not be released into the market until at least April of next year, officials said.
In 2015, annual per-capita rice consumption was 62.9kg, a drop from 128.1kg in 1985. The government had 1.71 million tons of rice in its stockpile as of November.
By Kevin Lee (email@example.com)