Telecom and chemical companies in South Korea look set to be asked by the Government to buy thousands of tonnes of garlic in a bid to avert a trade dispute with China.

The South Korean government fear that China could stop importing some of the country’s communications and chemical products because they have not kept an agreement to buy Chinese garlic.

Last year, a trade dispute between the countries developed after the Koreans raised import tariffs on garlic by 300% to protect its own farmers. The row was only settled when tariffs were reduced and Korea agreed to purchase a set amount of garlic from China.

China’s recent move in upping the price of garlic has resulted in Korean companies refusing to buy the product. Telecom manufacturers like Samsung, which is a key exporter to China, could suffer as a result of the dispute.