South Korea announced on friday that it will open its rice market to import rice from other countries but will impose high tariff om importation.

The decision for high tariff was taken into consideration to provide relaxation to the local farmers who faced losses due to the tides.

The decision to open the market was forced by the imminent expiry of a two decade-old deal on rice import quotas that South Korea had secured with the World Trade Organization (WTO).A World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement that allowed the country to import foreign rice under the minimum market access (MMA) expires at the end of this year after it was extended 10 years ago.

This move by the South Korea government faced lots of oppositions  which had led to the MMA being extended in 2004, but the WTO only agreed to the extension on condition that the annual quota of imported rice be increased.

As a result, total rice imports soared from about 225,000 tonnes in 2005 to 409,000 tonnes in 2014. The current quantity imported accounts for about 9 per cent of the country’s rice consumption.

Agriculture Minister Lee Dong Pil. of  South Korea said that the decision to open the rice market would benefits the rice farmers.

South Korean media reports have suggested the tariff, which will have to be verified by the WTO, could be anywhere between 300 and 500 percent, but farmers fear this would be allowed to slowly erode over the years.

 

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