Posted April. 21, 2005 23:32,
It was found out that the expected sales prices of Chinese apples and pears, which are expected to be under review by the Korean government to protect the domestic rice market, were about a third of the prices charged by their Korean counterparts. Because Korean and Chinese apples and pears taste similar, once import starts, it is worried that they will harm as many as 90,000 domestic farmers in Korea.
According to a report titled, Research on the Chinese Fruit Industry, by the Research Center of the NACF (National Agricultural Co-operative Federation) the JoongAng Daily acquired on April 21, the average expected wholesale price of imported Chinese apples amounts to 910 won per kilogram. This is only 32.6 percent of the average domestic apple price of 2,788 won. As for pears, the average wholesale price of Chinese pears is 761 won, 41 percent of the price charged by their Korean counterparts, which cost 1,856 won.
Chinese Apple Prices Are 32 Percent of Koreas
Korean importers buy apples from the Shandong peninsula, famous for its apples, at 408 to 456 won per kilogram. After adding shipping costs, tariffs, customs fees, commission fees for importers and others, the selling price of the apples to domestic wholesale grocery markets comes out to be around 872 to 949 won. By contrast, the price of domestic apples is around 2,532 to 3,305 won. Likewise, pears produced in Hubei Province and distributed in domestic wholesale markets cost 707 to 774 won, much cheaper than Korean pears that cost 1,479 to 2,496 won.
Chinese apples and pears are cheap because starting 1990, Chinese farms have procured quality seeds, mass produce product, and are focused on upgrading their cultivating technology, leading to higher productivity. The production volume of Chinese apples in 2003 was 21.1 million tons, 57 times higher than Koreas, which amounted to 370,000 tons.
That does not mean domestic fruits are superior, quality-wise. Research officer Oh Jeong-yoon reported, Last September, we actually visited the Shandong peninsula, and the Hubei Province, and compared Chinese and Korean apples and pears in terms of sweetness, firmness, and pulpiness. The Chinese fruits had similar levels in all the categories with Korean ones.
When Would Imports Start?
The Korean government is expecting it would take more than five years for Chinese fruits to be imported. That is because prior to import negotiations, imports must pass an eight-step risk screening to test for possible infestation of insect pests. Chinese authorities applied for the risk screening of apples and pears last August. One official at the National Quarantine Plant Service in Korea said, Currently, risk screening of Chinese cherries is under way. Only after that is done will the screening of pears and apples begin.
However, according to this report, China has designated one eighth of its territory, which is 1.21 million square kilometers as No pest zones, and is eager to export its fruits, so imports may begin soon. Not only that, the government has pledged to immediately carry out risk screening of imports in an additional agreement, so import could take place earlier than expected.
A Need to Restructure Domestic Farms, and Cultivate Quality Seeds
By around 2010, when Chinese fruits are being imported, experts predict that domestic fruit farms will face a big crisis. That is because by then, by signing an FTA with Japan, high quality apples and pears from Japan are expected to be imported en masse. Sandwiched between cheap Chinese fruits, and expensive Japanese ones, Korean fruit farms might find it difficult to survive.