SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's pork imports have more than doubled so far this year, the government said Thursday, apparently because of a temporary removal of tariffs aimed at curbing domestic prices.
The country imported 329,743 tons of pork as of this month, up 117 percent from the 151,889 tons imported during the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The government in June removed all tariffs on 130,000 tons of fresh and frozen pork to help keep down rising prices, and later withdrew tariffs on all fresh pork imports, with the exception of fatback, until the end of September.
The growth was largely led by imports from the United States, which more than tripled from 41,888 tons to 129,975 tons, accounting for 39.4 percent of total imports, according to the ministry.
American beef imports are also on the rise with 94,384 tons shipped here in the first 10 months of the year, up 20.8 percent from the same period last year.
Officials noted pork and beef imports from the United States are likely to continue rising as the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) is set to go into effect early next year.
U.S. pork is currently subject to a maximum 25 percent import tariff, which will be gradually removed over the next 10 years under the Korea-U.S. FTA. A 40-percent tariff on U.S. beef will be phased out over the next 15 years.
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