Korean rice, fish will enter Chinese market

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Korean rice, fish will enter Chinese market

Korea will start exporting rice, cutlassfish and samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) to China as early as June, said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday.

In the first ministerial-level meeting on quality supervision, inspection and quarantine held in Beijing on Friday, Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan and Zhi Shuping, director-general of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, agreed to start selling Korean samgyetang in the Chinese market within the first half of the year and cutlassfish by the end of the year.

The agreement is a follow-up of the presidential agreement made in September, when the presidents of the two countries officially signed the bilateral Korea-China Free Trade Agreement that came into effect Dec. 20.

The two sides will complete detailed plans including the registration of Korean samgyetang exporters with the Chinese authority as early as possible in order to begin trading.

The Chinese authority will also issue a certificate of quarantine for Korean-grown rice and begin accepting it from April.

Rice was approved for export last year alongside kimchi, but because of quarantine issues, 30 tons of Korean rice has been pending at the Shanghai Customs. The quarantined rice will also be released by the Chinese customs early next month, the ministry said.

Korean cutlassfish will be heading to China for the first time. The Chinese authority agreed to simplify and accelerate its usual procedures for importing foreign fish, including risk analysis, for the type. The Korean government plans to export four more fishery products, including sea horse and butterfish, in the near future in order to cut down the time-consuming certification process for imported electronics, the two parties also signed an MOU to recognize the certifications offered by institutions in each country.

For example, the Chinese authority currently demands that Korean refrigerator makers get their products certified by a Chinese institution, which takes about 90 days and costs 7.5 million won. Under the MOU, the process will take no more than 45 days and the cost will be reduced to 5 million won ($4,294). Korean electronics companies will also no longer be forced to have their samples or factories inspected starting in the second half of the year.

Joo also held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Miao Wei to discuss measures to increase cooperation on developing robots, lithium-ion batteries and aerospace technologies.

Joo complained to the Chinese minister that the Chinese government’s recent decision to stop subsidizing bus companies that operate buses powered by Korean-made nickel, cobalt, manganese-based batteries is problematic.

“There wasn’t a single report of explosion accidents involving this NCM battery in the past 10 years,” Joo said. “In advanced countries like Canada, our batteries are being widely used to manufacture buses. The latest decision will disappoint foreign businesses in China and undermine their trust in policies.”

The Chinese minister pledged to conduct an assessment of the safety of the batteries together with Korean battery makers in April and subsequently decide whether or not to resume the subsidies.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [song.suhyun@joongang.co.kr]

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