South Korea will likely set its tariffs on rice imports at more than 500 percent, a senior government official said Tuesday.
"The government plans to set the import tariff rate at the highest possible level to protect the country's rice industry," the official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs told reporters.
The move comes as South Korea is scheduled to liberalize its rice market through tarrification starting next year. The government is expected to notify the World Trade Organization of the tariff rate before the end of the month.
Ministry officials have said anything more than a 400 percent tariff rate would be enough to protect the local industry by making imports more expensive than locally produced rice.
The ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were pros and cons to setting a high tariff rate, noting the country must provide its reasons for the high rate to the WTO.
"We will work to come up with the logic based on international laws that can support our position," he said.
South Korea has been allowed to delay its rice market liberalization under a 1993 agreement with the WTO in exchange for expanding the mandatory rice import quota, which reached 408,000 tons this year. The quota will be maintained even after the rice market opening. (Yonhap)