The Korean government is leaning heavily toward a liberalization of
its rice market, nudged by a move out of the Philippines.
The World Trade Organization on Thursday gave Manila a five-year extension on a waiver to open its rice market, but local officials here say it came at a steep cost, with mandatory imports more than doubling.
If Korea wants to avoid finding itself in a similar situation, the country whose rice consumption relies almost completey on domestic produce would have to open up its rice market.
Korea was allowed to delay liberalization in 1993 and again in 2004, but that agreement is set to expire at the end of the year.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Lee Joon-won said the case out of the Philippines should stand as a lesson for South Korea, and suggested a change was coming.
The government says a final decision will come by the end of the month.