August 25, 2008

South Korea, China Agree on Revised Fisheries Trade Pact

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

Seoul, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) - South Korea and China agreed on a revised fisheries trade pact aimed at reducing unnecessary friction between the two neighbours, the government said Monday.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the new pact is a revision of the bilateral trade pact signed in April 2001.

"The main difference is that both sides agreed to differentiate between minor and serious violations, which can mandate that exporters to be more careful about the products they ship out, and to reduce friction between the trade partners," said a ministry spokesperson.

The revisions come following a discovery by South Korean officials of unauthorized chemicals, including malachite green, in Chinese eels in 2005. The finding led to import restrictions.

The synthetic antibacterial agent is a known carcinogen and has been banned worldwide. It is widely used as a drug for aquarium fish and a fabric dye.

Under the new rules, signed by South Korean Agriculture Minister Chang Tae-pyong and Li Changjiang - head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China - Seoul and Beijing agreed not to take harsh action in the case of minor unintentional infractions. Both parties, however, said they will strengthen countermeasures against companies that repeatedly sell products posing serious health risks.

In the latter case, the importing country may halt quarantine inspections from all products from twice-offending exporters. Such companies will be barred from requesting permission to export goods until at least a year from the violation date.

In addition, the two sides agreed to include a joint inspection clause if products are found to contain banned chemicals.

In 2007, South Korea imported US$1.07 billion worth of fisheries goods from China, while exports reached $157 million. Chinese fisheries import account for about 35 per cent of all imports, with frozen yellow corbina, cutlass fish and octopus making up the bulk of imports.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0507 25 Aug 08.

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