In light of the shortage of eggs that is hitting a critical point in South Korea amid the worst bird flu epidemic, the government has decided to lower tariffs on imported eggs in order to stabilize the supply.
At present, a custom tax of between 8 and 30 percent is levied on imported processed food using eggs while for fresh eggs it is 27 percent. But the country has never imported fresh eggs so far.
With the government mulling a new policy from next year, industry watchers appear to be skeptical about the idea, citing tricky logistics.
One of the primary concerns is the distance from the main importing countries such as the US, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Critics say the shelf life of eggs is not ample enough to be transported on ships and air cargo is too expensive.
“Lowering tariffs will only be beneficial if the eggs are imported from nearby countries such as those in Southeast Asia,” an industry source was quoted as saying by Herald Business, a sister business daily of The Investor.
Another hurdle is the tedious and arduous importing procedures, which could take several months. This process entails Korean companies who want to import eggs to select foreign partners and acquire certificates from the food safety agency.
“If the lower tariff policy is implemented, it would be merely impossible for small bakeries to directly import eggs and large conglomerates will be the only entities capable of controlling the inflow, which would eventually cause more discrepancies,” the source said.
By Alex Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)