South Korea to monitor agricultural commodity prices ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

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This photo, taken on Monday, shows citizens shopping for groceries at a discount store in Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea plans to closely monitor the prices of major agricultural, livestock and fishery products from next week in a bid to help stabilize inflationary pressure ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, said Friday a senior government official.

According to First Deputy Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon, the government will monitor the evolution of prices of 17 items mainly used for preparing holiday meals, including napa cabbage, beef, eggs and rice.

Next year’s new lunar holiday runs from January 31 to February 2.

The demand for vegetables, eggs and other foodstuffs generally increases in South Korea ahead of the traditional festival, as people prepare meals for family reunions.

The move comes as South Korea faces mounting inflationary pressures amid rising agricultural and petroleum prices and economic recovery.

The country’s consumer prices rose 3.7% in November from a year earlier, the fastest rise in a decade in a decade. The November reading was above a 3.2% year-over-year increase in October.

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

It plans to extend the temporary removal of tariffs on imported eggs for six months until June of next year. The government will not apply any tariffs on 100 million eggs or egg products per month, down from 8 to 30 percent previously.

The country also plans to set aside napa cabbage, the main ingredient in making kimchi, to prepare for potential winter weather. It will import 10,000 tonnes of garlic because its prices have remained high due to a drop in production. (Yonhap)


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