South Korea has seen a massive rise in kimchi imports from China as mainland suppliers are offering it at lower prices compared to Korean domestic offerings, Apple Daily reported Monday.
South Korea’s trade deficit in pickled cabbage totaled US$84.09 million from 2010 to April this year, the report said. In 2014 alone, the country’s imports hit 212,938 tons, while exports stood at just 24,742 tons, it said, citing data from the South Korea’s customs agency.
The pickles import was kept at an average of 200,000 tons each year since 2010, with 99 percent of the product coming from China, according to the report.
The massive import was mainly due to the lower price of China-made pickles, which stands at half or one-third of South Korea’s home-grown offerings, it noted.
Meanwhile, China has enhanced quarantine on imported fermented foods in recent years, making it hard for South Korea to export kimchi to China.
South Korea’s president, Park Geunhye, has hoped that Beijing will relax inspections on kimchi, and incorporate kimchi trade into the FTA agreement between the two countries. Beijing, meanwhile, is said to be insisting that South Korea make concessions in automobile trade in exchange.
To protect the home-grown pickles industry, some experts in South Korea have called for hiking import tariff on kimchi. Authorities have also proposed excluding Kimchi in the list of tariff-reduction products in the FTA talks last year, a move that China objected to.
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