Wednesday, July 19, 2006

US ROK FTA - Baggage

One reason I started a blog is to keep track of snippets of things I read in the news that really illustrate the problems here. Today's Joongang has a doozy of one. Have you ever wondered how restrictive the rice market is in Korea? You ever wonder how Korea tries it best to keep foreign rice out and redoubles its efforts to make nobody buy it? Consider:

 Korea may consider easing packaging rules for imported U.S. rice...Korea imports only 22- and 44- pound packages of U.S. rice, which have been accused of being too big. Insiders familiar with rice issues said Washington wants smaller-sized packages sold here. Changing the external design of sacks, which may include instruction on how best to cook rice, has also been raised.

Consider the implications of this story. Korea not only severely limits the amount of rice in by quota but also restricts the bags to the finest detail. They specify the sizes the rice must be packed in (no such restrictions on Korean producers). They specify the printing and design as well (agian no such restrictions on domestics). They even regulate what exactly is printed, even something as innocuous as cooking instructions (add water, rice, and boil). 

Many have asked me in the FTA talks what kind of restrictions Korea has and what is a non-tariff barrier. Well here you go.

Finally, remember this every time Korea says it cannot understand why foreigners say Korean cannot be hub because of cumbersome governmental rules.


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