(LEAD) South Korea extends temporary removal of import duties on eggs until end of year


(ATTN: ADD more details on automatic extension of automatic tax cut in last 3 paragraphs)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) – South Korea announced on Tuesday that it will extend the temporary removal of tariffs on imported eggs by six months until the end of the year in an effort to stabilize their high prices.

Cabinet approved revised regulations that will allow local businesses to import 36,000 tonnes of fresh eggs and other egg products duty-free until December 31.

In January, the government removed import tariffs on 50,000 tonnes of egg products by the end of June in an attempt to alleviate a supply shortage caused by the bird flu outbreak here. Previously, duties of 8 to 30 percent were levied on imported egg products.

Egg prices have jumped since late last year due to the bird flu outbreak and strong consumer demand at home amid the pandemic.

The country has not reported any cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza for nearly two months. But the surge in egg prices has not slowed down as the number of laying hens remains low following the mass culling of poultry due to avian influenza.

The finance ministry said the country plans to import 70 million eggs this month, more than initially forecast imports of 50 million.

South Korea imported 144 million eggs between January and May to ease the supply shortage.

The country’s consumer prices rose 2.6% year-on-year in May, the fastest gain in more than nine years, largely due to high prices for agricultural and petroleum products.

Cabinet also approved the six-month extension of the consumption tax reduction on passenger cars to help boost domestic demand affected by the pandemic.

A 30% reduction in the consumption tax on the purchase of passenger cars was due to expire at the end of June, but the country has decided to extend it until the end of this year.

In July 2018, the government reduced the car consumption tax from 5% to 3.5% and continued to expand it with the aim of increasing domestic demand.

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