In a bid to resolve the trade dispute over South Korea’s falling imports of Chinese garlic, Seoul’s commerce, industry and energy minister Chang Che-shik has revealed that Korea will begin to import more coal from China.  

Under the accord, Korea could however assign more than half its import coal contracts to other countries after they expire in five years.
The trade row began in June 2000, when Korea imported 22,000 tonnes of Chinese garlic, a figure that falls 10,000 tonnes short than the agreed purchase amount of 32,000 tonnes. Korea argued that the move was designed to protect its domestic garlic farmers, but when it then levied a 315% tariff rate on Chinese garlic imports, China retaliated by imposing sanctions against Korean-made mobile phones parts and polyethylene, valued at US$500m.

Korea currently imports about 61m tonnes of coal, 37% of which comes from China.