Gov’t to allow large supermarkets to import fruits directly

2024.02.23 09:59:02 | 2024.02.26 09:15:11

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]이미지 확대

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]

As fruit and international oil prices continue an upward trend, the South Korean government will increase the quota of reduced tariffs for imported fruits by 20,000 tons and allow large supermarkets to import fruits directly via allocated tariff quotas. The government will also extend the subsidy for diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) linked to fuel prices until April 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choi Sang-mok made the decision during his first ministerial meeting on economic affairs after taking office, which was held at the government complex in Sejong City on Thursday. The meeting was attended by Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Song Mi-ryung, Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Park Sang-woo, and Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Kang Do-hyung.

Under the measure, the government plans to allocate additional quantities of fruit that will be subject to tariff reductions by the end of March 2024 and allow large supermarkets to import the allocated quantities.

Currently, only importers, food manufacturers and processors, and food suppliers are allowed to engage in direct imports. The government intends to revise relevant regulations to allow large supermarkets to apply for direct imports moving forward, in the belief that if large supermarkets import fruits directly there will be a cost reduction in intermediate distribution, in turn leading to a decrease in consumer prices.

“We will clarify the rules on direct imports of quota-tariff quantities, which are currently ambiguous,” a government official said.

The remaining quantity (527 tons) of oranges that were subject to tariff reductions will be imported by the end of February 2024, and the government intends to allocate additional tariff reduction quotas for fruits if necessary.

The government will also provide a new shipment subsidy of 1,300 won ($0.98) per kilogram for Cheongyang chili peppers, cucumbers, and zucchinis for two weeks from February 26th.

To ease the burden of rising international oil prices, the government will extend its fuel tax cut and subsidy for diesel and CNG linked to fuel prices until April 2024. The government will also organize a pan-government oil market inspection team by March to ensure that there are no excessive price hikes at gas stations and other sites due to the rise in international oil prices.

The government also reaffirmed its principle of freezing public utility charges for the first half of 2024. It aims to absorb factors leading to price increases via cost reduction and self-sufficiency efforts and will continue the incentive system of distributing finances differently based on efforts by local governments to stabilize prices.

By Lee Hee-jo and Yoon Yeon-hae

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