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S. Korea to remove import duties on egg products amid supply shortage

Eggs are displayed at a supermarket in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Eggs are displayed at a supermarket in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
South Korea's agricultural ministry said Wednesday it plans to temporarily remove tariffs on imported egg products to resolve a supply shortage sparked by the outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu here.

The move, which is set to be finalized next week, would allow local companies to import up to a combined 50,000 tons of fresh eggs and seven other types of egg products without tariffs until the end of June, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

This will mark a sharp decrease from the current tariffs of 8-30 percent on imported egg products.

In 2017, South Korea temporarily lifted tariffs on egg products following its worst outbreak of bird flu.

The latest move is part of South Korea's efforts to overcome short supplies of eggs following the spread of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza, which has ravaged chicken farms across the country since November.

The planned imports of eggs are meant to stabilize egg prices ahead of the Lunar New Year's holiday, which runs from Feb. 11 to 14.

Consumer egg prices shot up 22.4 percent as of Wednesday compared with an average year.

South Korean quarantine officials have so far slaughtered nearly 20 million poultry to prevent the spread of the bird flu, a move that has reduced the country's egg supply by 11 percent on-year.

The demand for eggs increased in part as people consumed more from their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supplies of chicken and duck meat, meanwhile, were stable, although their prices increased 8.5 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, as the market remained concerned over the further spread of the virus. (Yonhap)