The South Korean government is considering the expansion of quota tariffs, which means temporarily lowering tariff rates to imported products for certain volumes, to some produce as prices could rise before Chuseok with the consumer price inflation rate reaching 6.3 percent in July.
According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Sunday, the government will announce a series of measures for public welfare stability for Chuseok, which include stabilizing the prices of agricultural, livestock, and fisheries products and expanding loans for small and medium-sized enterprises and small business owners. The government will categorize major agricultural, livestock, and fisheries products, such as napa cabbage, white radish, onion, garlic, potato, apple, pear, chestnut, and beef, as high-demand items for Chuseok and manage them. Other items whose prices increased sharply recently will be designated as items for special management. The government is reviewing a plan to expand quota tariffs to some of the high-demand items for Chuseok and the items for special management. A zero percent quota tariff has already been applied to imported beef, pork, and chicken from June through the end of this year. In addition, the government’s reserve for the high-demand items for Chuseok will be released to the market to lower their prices.
The measures to be announced will include plans to reduce the vulnerable groups’ burden of living expenses, including transportation, communication, medical, education, and housing expenses. In addition, government-run banks and commercial banks will expand new loans and guarantees to help small business owners and small and medium-sized enterprises avoid financial difficulties around the Chuseok holiday.
Some believe that the prices of agricultural, livestock, and fisheries products will become stabilized after Chuseok. According to the ministry, the world food price index announced by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) decreased by 8.6 percent from the previous month to 140.9 points, which is the biggest drop since October 2008. “The food price index, which rose sharply from February this year, dropped in July as Ukraine resumed grain export and the U.S. experienced an increase in its production volume,” said a ministry official.