SEOUL Jan 3 South Korea's import tariffs on egg
products will be cut to zero from Wednesday as part of the
government's efforts to ease an egg shortage sparked by the
country's worst-ever bird flu epidemic.
South Korea's agriculture ministry said on Tuesday the
tariff cut will be applied to a total of 98,600 tonnes of eight
types of egg products including fresh eggs, liquid egg and egg
powder until June 30 and, if necessary, it will consider
extending the period.
At present, tariffs of 8 percent to 30 percent are imposed
on imported egg products but Korea has not imported fresh eggs
"Tariffs on imported egg products such as fresh eggs and
processed egg products will be lowered," Lee Jun-won, Vice
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said at a
"In the case of fresh eggs, even if the government funds air
freight costs, considering current local egg prices, still
imported egg prices will be higher so it will be difficult to
import for the moment but more processed egg products can be
brought into Korea," Lee said.
The move comes as Asia's fourth-largest economy is grappling
with its worst-ever bird flu outbreak. After the first
confirmation on Nov. 18, the country has culled a record 30
million birds and raised its bird flu alert to the highest
As most of the culled birds are egg-laying chickens, the
bird flu outbreak has led to a sharp increase in egg prices due
to tightening supplies.
The average retail price for 30 eggs has jumped nearly 52
percent since the outbreak started to 8,251 won ($6.85) as of
Monday, according to state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade
Korea's agriculture ministry is in discussions with the
United States to clear egg imports and is planning to finalise
the negotiations as early as possible, according to the ministry
The ministry also said it will simplify import procedures to
speed up egg imports and seek to relieve the egg shortage ahead
of Lunar New Year holiday in late January.
($1 = 1,204.4100 won)
(Reporting By Jane Chung; Additional reporting by Nataly Pak in
SEOUL; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)