World

South Korea to lift import tariffs for chicken from next month

SEOUL South Korea plans to lift import tariffs for chicken from early next month in a bid to prevent price increases amid the country's worst bird flu outbreak and a ban on US poultry imports, its agriculture ministry said yesterday.

The agriculture ministry expected the cuts to help stabilise local prices as imported chickens are cheaper than domestic ones.

The move comes as South Korean producers are seeking to raise chicken prices following the country's ban on US poultry imports after a bird flu outbreak in the United States last week, stoking fears of a shortage.

South Koreans are eating more chicken amid a fried chicken craze, consuming 14.2kg of poultry meat each in 2015, a near three-fold increase since 1990.

South Korea is self-sufficient in chicken supplies, but it also imports chicken for processed food, mainly from Brazil.

Along with the import tariff cuts, the ministry said it will release 2,000 tonnes of government chicken inventory from March 21 at lower prices to ease worries over supply.

PRICE

The average chicken retail price per kilogramme rose 5.7 per cent to 5,713 won (S$7) as of Friday since the country's import ban of US poultry on March 6, said state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.

Despite the price increase, it was lower than the yearly average price of 5,938 won.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, has been grappling with a bird flu outbreak since late last year, culling more than 35 million farm birds, or over a fifth of its entire stock of poultry. - REUTERS

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