The first lot of US eggs arrived in South Korea last Thursday following a trade agreement struck between the US Department of Agriculture and the South Korean government. As part of the agreement, the South Korean government lifted bans on US shell egg imports, temporarily waived all duties, and agreed to subsidize 50% of shipping costs for the time being.
The agreement comes amidst one of South Korea’s worst outbreaks of the Avian Flu virus. Since November, approximately 30 million birds have been culled, causing a major supply deficit of eggs and elevation of prices. The agreement with the US is intended to help tackle the shortage.
The estimated 1.6 million eggs bound for South Korea will assist with the shortage and lower the price of eggs for South Koreans. The deal will also assist US farmers with the low demand of eggs caused by an oversupply. Many of the eggs will come from Iowa, the largest egg producer in the country. Hickman’s Family Farm in Arizona has also announced its involvement in the egg exports. While the price of eggs in South Korea is currently $2.99 USD per dozen, under the new agreement, The US Department of Agriculture estimates that US eggs will be available for approximately $1.93 USD per dozen.
Agriculture is currently the second-largest US export to South Korea. Recent statistics show that as many as $7 billion worth of US agricultural goods have been exported to South Korea in a single year, including grains, meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and cotton. In 2015 agricultural exports from Iowa alone to South Korea totaled $345 million and within a ten year period total exports from Iowa to South Korea increased by 13.6% . In 2012, 2123 jobs in Iowa were supported by exports to South Korea.
Tara Duane is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Western Australia