S.Korea will open its rice market for foreign rice import at high tariffs so as to protect there local farmers next year.This is after a long period of 20 years when the Korean rice market will fully open for the foreign market.On 18 September,Korea announces that it will fully open its rice market for foreign trade at a tariff of 513% and will fully liberalize the market.High tariff rates will protect Korea’s local rice farmers.
Under an agreement with the WTO,Korea will increase its rice import quota instead of fully opening its market and this agreement is expiring at the end of this year.The import quota for rice this year is of 408,708 tonnes, or about 9 per cent of the national demand, with a 5 per cent tariff on the imported grain.
Rice market liberalization is an sensitive political issue and farmers have opposed the government’s plan to end its 20-year long rice import quota and liberalize rice imports in 2014. In order to gain access for other products such as automobiles in various countries, the government is supporting free trade and has open its rice markets as well.
At the end of September, WTO will proposed a tariff rate which has been lingered by the Korean government for the highest tariff rate on which the WTO decision is still to come which may take several months. Whether the WTO will approved 513% tariff rate is still to see but it is expected that several large rice producers such as the US are likely to oppose such a high tariff rate.
Farmers also are in a state of confusion that whether the government could be able to maintain such a high tariff rate and also the country negotiates free trade agreements with various countries, despite the government’s pledge that rice market liberalization will be excluded from any future trade agreements.
The country is also facing decline in the rice consumption as the rice consumption per human is 80.7 kg in 2005. which declines to 67.2 kg per person last year thus the rice farming industry will seek MMA purchase channeled .
Full Liberalisation of rice m,arket is an unavoidable event which hass been lingered on and on for the last 20 years and both the government and the rice industry have ample of timne to think over it and be prepared for it.
Farmers are a conservative group by nature; however, they must seek innovations to boost the competitiveness of their products. Farmers could fight these competitiveness by being innovative,Improving the quality of rice grains, boosting productivity and planting alternative crops .