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South Korea opening up to importation of some fishery products, says agent.

South Korea Opening Up to Importation Of Some Fishery Products, Says Agent

The Republic of Korea is the world's seventh-largest producer of fishery products, with an annual catch of just under four million tons. But it is also opening up to imports.

Frozen tuna, sablefish and herring are among the products on the "automatic approval list" for imports, explained Hong K. An, agent of the Korea Deep Sea Fisheries Association, at the fourth annual U.S. Seafood Export Conference in New Orleans.

That means the deal is done as soon as a foreign seller and a Korean buyer agree. But some products are still on a restricted list. Most don't matter to American exporters, An said, but those that do include pollock and North Pacific flatfish, and that hurts.

"Pollock has been the traditional national fish of Korea," he observed. "Most of the stocks are now in North Korean waters, but there is a substantial and very inefficient pollock fishery community in southeastern Korea." Now that democracy is taking hold, its lobby is campaigning hard for protection from foreign competition.

Trade Pressure Heavy

Pressure for relaxation of trade restrictions mounts as Korea's prosperity increases. Per capita income was about $3,000 last year, and this is expected to double in the early 1990's.

"Trade surpluses bring heavy pressures from trading partners for increased purchases of what they have to trade for Hyundai cars and Samsung microwaves," said An.

But strong-arm tactics are likely to be counter-productive, he added. In the case of pollock, for example, there are other countries that can sell it cheaper. "American trade policy efforts directed at liberalization of pollock imports are not, therefore, likely to be helpful to actual U.S. exports." (Some current U.S. pressures center on exports of tobacco.)

South Korea's own fisheries companies are vertically-integrated: they catch, process and market fish at home and abroad. About half the catch is coastal, the rest split between aquaculture and deep sea fisheries. The deep sea fleet includes about 700 vessels, and its activities (including over-the-side purchases) in the North Pacific are second only to Japan's.

Joint Ventures

There are some joint ventures with U.S. companies in the North Pacific, a major tuna fleet in the South Pacific, a large shrimp operation off Suriname, large squid operations off the Falkland Islands and in the North Pacific, and diverse fisheries off Africa. All those products represent exports; but approved imports include not only frozen ground fish, but canned shrimp, abalone and salmon.

The tariff on fishery imports is supposed to be 20%, but only a 10% rate is actually enforced, An said. There is also supposed to be a quota on imports for each species, but none of the quotas has actually been reached--and government policy is simply to raise the limit if need be. Tariffs on over-the-side purchases of U.S.-harvested fish in the North Pacific are only two percent.

Because Korea has been running such a huge trade surplus with the United States (as opposed to with Japan), it has been bending over backwards to accommodate American exporters, he said. Three years ago, 32% of the country's fishery imports were from the U.S.; last year, it was almost half -- and that doesn't count over-the-side purchases. The official tariff rate, An added, will soon be reduced to 8%.

In dollar terms, U.S. fishery exports to South Korea increased from $47 million in 1985 to $78 million in 1986 and $106 million in 1987. Exporters who want to tap that market, however, should study up on Korean tastes -- embassies, consulates and trade groups can all provide information. Korean importers have offices in New York and Seattle, he noted. But Korean buyers aren't rubes, and so exporters had better keep "commitments in terms of price, quality and quantity." European Aquaculture Society Plans Conference, Directory

A trade directory for the aquaculture industry and an industry conference and exhibition are planned for this year by the European Aquaculture Society (EAS).

The conference is set for Oct. 2-4 and is being co-sponsored by L'Association pour le Developpement de l'Aquaculture (ADA) and the Bordeaux Congress. The directory should be available in early 1989.

Also involved in sponsoring the conference are the Commissioner of Fisheries of the European Community and several other aquaculture societies. It will include programs on business and scientific topics, films and satellite symposia on sturgeon and pond farming.

The trade directory will be published in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish), and will be distributed through direct sales, aquaculture societies and trade shows. Listings will cover finfish, shellfish and mollusc species (eggs, fry/larvae, etc.), food, equipment, services and other categories.
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Title Annotation:Hong K. An
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Words:780
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