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S. Korea to monitor prices of farm products ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

This photo, taken Monday, shows citizens looking around groceries at a discount store in Seoul. (Yonhap)
This photo, taken Monday, shows citizens looking around groceries at a discount store in Seoul. (Yonhap)
South Korea plans to closely monitor prices of major agricultural, livestock and fishery goods starting next week in a bid to help stabilize inflationary pressure ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, a senior government official said Friday.

The government will monitor the price movements of 17 items that are mainly used for holiday preparation meals, including napa cabbage, beef, eggs and rice, according to First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon.

Next year's Lunar New Holiday runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

Demand for vegetables, eggs and other foodstuffs usually rises in South Korea ahead of the traditional holiday as people prepare meals for family gatherings.

The move comes as South Korea faces a build-up in inflationary pressure amid rising prices of farm and oil products and the economic recovery.

The country's consumer prices rose 3.7 percent in November from a year earlier, the fastest on-year gain in a decade. The November reading was higher than a 3.2 percent on-year increase in October.

The government said it will resume the import of eggs in a bid to help stabilize egg prices amid the outbreak of bird flu. The country will import 30 million eggs from the United States this month.

It plans to extend a temporary removal of tariffs on imported eggs by another six months until June next year. The government will apply zero duties on 100 million eggs or egg products per month from the previous 8-30 percent.

The country also plans to reserve napa cabbage, the main ingredient for making kimchi, to brace for potentially bad weather in the winter. It will import 10,000 tons of garlic as its prices remained high due to a fall in production. (Yonhap)

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