A sign saying that urea water solution is temporarily unavailable in Korean is seen at a gas station in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
In a bid to ease its urea shortage, South Korea said Nov. 8 that it plans to import 200 metric tons of the main component of diesel exhaust fluid from Vietnam next week, and fly in an additional supply from Australia.
According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the government has decided on the how much powdered urea it plans to import from the Southeast Asian nation, while adding 7,000 liters to the initial 20,000 liters of urea water solution it seeks to fly in from Australia. On top of all that, it is currently in talks with other nations to import a combined estimate of 10,000 tons of powdered urea.
The ministry has yet to name the other parties in the negotiations.
The supplies will receive swift customs clearance to resolve the urea shortage. The usual 5 percent to 6.5 percent tariff will be waived. Any additional fees needed for the import will be covered as well, the Finance Ministry said.
The decisions were made at a meeting of related agencies presided over by Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-won early Nov. 8.
On Sunday, government officials said they would fly in 20,000 liters of urea solution from Australia via military aircraft to ease the shortage of the solution here and place a cap on surging prices in recent weeks.
The shortage struck as China tightened exports of fertilizers and related materials, including urea, in October to deal with its own power crisis prompted by a coal supply shortage. Commercial urea is extracted from coal.
China has grown to become a key supplier of urea solution for Asia’s fourth-largest economy in recent years, as local manufacturers pulled out after losing competitiveness on price with China and Russia. Some 97 percent of urea imports to Korea came from China in the first nine months of this year.
The government on Monday also reiterated its policy banning the hoarding of urea. A related crackdown was launched Monday and will continue until the end of the year. An individual caught hoarding supply will be slapped with a fine of up to 100 million won ($85,000) and could be jailed up to three years.
“To stabilize the supply of urea solution, it is crucial for all ministries and government agencies to utilize all possible measures,” Lee said at the meeting, echoing President Moon Jae-in.
Moon on Monday instructed aides to draw up all possible measures to stabilize the supply of urea solution here, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com)