Korea imports more beef, pork and chicken as less go for local
Imports of beef, pork and chicken in Korea each jumped around 30 percent this year.
From January to May, around $948.3 million worth of pork was imported, according to Korea Agricultural Trade Information (KATI). This is a sharp 37 percent increase from last year’s $692.1 million and an all-time high figure.
The imported volume of chicken rose by 27.1 percent on year, and that of beef hit an all-time high, rising by 30.4 percent on year.
Inflation along with an increase in demand for dining out are some contributing factors to the sharp increase in imports of livestock products. With high inflation, consumers are now looking for cheaper, imported goods instead of the more expensive, domestically produced products.
The import volume of livestock products in Korea is expected to further rise with the government’s recent decision to implement a zero tariff on imported livestock products.
The government decided to implement a zero tariff on 100,000 tons of imported beef products from Australia and the United States on July 7 to tame inflation. Under current bilateral free trade agreements, there is a quota tariff of 10.6 percent on U.S. beef and 16.0 percent on Australian beef, while a 40 percent quota tariff is imposed on beef products imported from other countries.
A tariff on imported chicken will also be reduced from the current 20 to 30 percent, to zero. A zero-percent tariff on 50,000 tons of pork was already imposed in June, which will now be implemented for 70,000 tons. The reduced tariffs will all be imposed until the end of the year.
The livestock industry protested in response to the government’s decision on Monday near the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul.
Protest participants asked the government to “withdraw the zero-quota tariff on imported livestock products,” saying “all meat, milk and eggs will now all be replaced with imported goods if the current situation continues.” They added that the government is “not dealing with more important issues, such as the sharp increase in prices of livestock feed.”
As the uproar within the livestock industry continued, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Chung Hwang-keun met with the leadership of the Hanwoo Association on Monday, according to the ministry. Hanwoo is the word for Korean beef.
The minister explained that there is currently no option but to reduce tariffs for 100,000 tons of imported beef products and promised to help the livestock industry through various measures including the provision of subsidies for livestock feed.
The livestock industry also raised concerns over the price competitiveness of domestically produced livestock goods, as imported volume is expected to rise with the reduced tariff.
In fact, both Australian and U.S.-imported beef were seen as substitutes for locally produced beef according to a report released by the Korea Rural Economic Institute.
Demand for Korean beef dropped by 0.26 percent when the price of Australian beef fell by 1 percent, and demand for the local beef fell by 0.11 percent upon a 1 percent drop in the price of U.S. beef.
BY CHO HYUN-SOOK, CHO JUNG-WOO [email@example.com]