April 13, 2001, 4:01 PM — A dispute over garlic imports to South Korea from China that erupted last year
once again threatens to hit exports of mobile telephones, according to reports
China has informed South Korea that it will block imports of mobile telephones
if the country does not abide by an agreement to import 32,000 tons of Chinese
garlic, according to the Yonhap news agency. China has complained that South
Korea has fallen short of the agreement by 10,000 tons, said the report.
The agreement was signed last year after China blocked cell phone and polyethylene
imports for more than a month in response to a hike in garlic import duties
by South Korea from 30 to 315 percent.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the largest exporter of cellular telephones to
China, lost more than $2 million during last year's export suspension.
Now the company is waiting to find out if the dispute will hit it again.
"We are waiting for a decision to be made and for the Chinese government
to make an official announcement," said Sung In Cho, a spokeswoman for
Samsung estimates total exports of cell phones from South Korea to China will
be about $50 million this year, up from $12 million last year, and that it has
a market share of between 60 percent and 70 percent.