S. Korea working to minimize potential impact of China’s urea export controls

SEOUL, South Korea will further enhance the monitoring of urea supplies and consult with China following its export restrictions of the industrial material, though any serious supply disruptions are unlikely, Seoul's finance ministry said Tuesday. Some Chinese suppliers of urea, used to curb emissions in diesel cars and make agricultural fertilizers, have temporarily suspended their outbound shipments since earlier this month to prioritize supplies for domestic use following a price surge. "The (South Korean) government first learned of the delay in Chinese customs on June 7 and has been discussing responses with ministries concerned and relevant companies," the ministry said in a release. "We are able to flexibly respond to the export controls, as South Korean companies have imported an ample volume through various channels and the proportion of urea from China remained low," it added. The issue has raised concerns about a recurrence of major disruptions to urea supplies in South Korea in 2021 following China's export control. Since the supply crunch, South Korea has been working hard to reduce its dependence on China for the supplies of the material and other major industrial items. Chinese urea accounted for 83.4 percent of South Korea's total imports in 2021 but fell sharply to 13 percent during the first five months of 2024. Around 63 percent of urea exports came from Vietnam and those from Qatar came to 12 percent during the January-May period, according to government data. "Currently, we have a urea inventory sufficient for three months, and the latest export restrictions are expected to have a limited impact," the ministry said. "The government will continue to monitor the supply and demand situation and imports from third countries. We will also have consultations with China to ensure stable supplies." Source: Yonhap News Agency