Seoul hoping to drive down sugar prices with bulk importsThe government will import sugar to sell to food companies in a bid to drive down local prices and help contain consumer inflation, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced to the public yesterday.
The ministry said the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade will initially purchase 10,000 tons from Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries this month.
The imported sugar will be distributed to manufacturers of processed foods at low prices to help stabilize their prices, it added.
The move comes as local sugar prices have been leveling off since a 9.8 percent increase last March, despite a tumble in international prices.
International sugar prices stood at $530 per ton this January, down 21.5 percent from the first quarter of last year.
The ministry said there is a need to promote competition because the local sugar market is dominated by three large companies.
In light of the domestic market situation, the government will move to scale up sugar imports from March, the ministry added.
Korea is grappling with high consumer inflation. Last year, consumer prices jumped 4 percent from 2010, hitting the upper ceiling of the Bank of Korea’s 2-4 percent target band.
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