February 7, 2011 / 9:44 AM / 7 years ago

S.Korea president calls for national food procurement body

SEOUL, Feb 7 (Reuters) - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Monday that Asia’s No.4 economy should set up a national body to secure food resources, while calling for measures against rising energy costs at a meeting with presidential secretaries.

President Lee and the government of the world’s No.5 crude oil importer and No.2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer after Japan have requested that local crude oil refiners lower domestic prices of oil products to contain consumer inflation.

“The possibility that the world will experience a food crisis is rising because of climate change. We need to research and set up national strategies for agriculture and fisheries,” Lee said in a statement by the presidential office.

“The government and privates should jointly set up a national body to procure food resources and prepare measures to secure investment.”

South Korea, heavily dependent on grains, oil and gas, said last month that it would establish its own grain-trading company in Chicago in the first half of 2011 as it seeks to mitigate the impact of global food price volatility. [ID:nTOE70A00I]

Later in the month the government said that the world’s third-largest corn buyer planned to purchase a grain elevator at a U.S. production site, and acquire a stake in an elevator for grain exports this year. [ID:nTOE70J05I]

President Lee also told the presidential office secretaries that measures against rising energy costs should be prepared, according to Monday’s statement.

A finance ministry official said last week that South Korea would keep electricity fees on hold for the time being as consumer inflation was expected to hover around 4 percent in the current quarter before softening to the 3 percent level in the second half. [ID:nTOE71001F] (Reporting by Cho Mee-young; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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