Gov‘t to curb unfair pricing that undermines FTA
Korea will crack down on unfair pricing practices in the distribution sector that undermine free trade pacts with its trading partners, top economic policymakers said Wednesday.
Officials, including Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan, said in a weekly economic review meeting that Seoul will closely examine the consumer prices of products that have benefited from free trade agreements (FTAs).
If there is a wide gap between import and consumer prices, which can be a sign of excessive profit taking, the government will deal with the matter as an unfair practice.
"The government will release the import prices for products that are closely linked to consumers so people can compare these with the actual sale prices," officials said.
The measures come as excessive profit margins by importers and retailers have caused prices of some products to remain high although import costs have come down thanks to various free trade pacts with the country's trading partners, such as the United States and the European Union.
High prices adversely affect the government's efforts to tame inflation, which soared to 4 percent in 2010 from a year earlier, hitting the upper ceiling of the Bank of Korea's 2-4 percent target band. For 2012, the government is aiming to bring prices down to around 3.2 percent.
Bahk, meanwhile, said that South Korea must use the FTAs to maximize growth by strengthening its exports and industrial competitiveness.
"The country needs to use the FTAs to the fullest in order to change the country's economic paradigm for the better," the finance minister said.
The top economic policymaker added that uncertainties in the Middle East could lead to shortfalls in energy resources and pledged to enhance the government's early warning capabilities to help reduce serious fallouts on the local economy.
Related to possible shortfalls in natural resources, the government said it is ready to provide 250 billion won ($221.5 million) in management assistance funds to small and medium enterprises in emergency situations.
Seoul currently has crude oil reserves that can meet the country's needs for 185 days, while its supply of iron ore and bituminous coal is sufficient for 28 days and 33 days, respectively. It also maintains reserves of liquefied petroleum gas, and nonferrous and rare metals. (Yonhap)