|Mobile memory chips made by chipmaker SK Hynix are seen in this picture illustration taken in Seoul, May 10, 2013. Reuters-Yonhap|
Korea said Thursday it plans to cut import tariffs on neon, xenon and krypton ― key material gases used for making semiconductors ― to zero next month in a bid to ease a potential supply crunch amid the Ukraine crisis.
The government said it plans to lower duties on the three materials under the quota tariff system to zero from the current 5.5 percent in April as Korea relies heavily on their imports from Russia and Ukraine.
Korea will also push to secure crude oil produced overseas through energy development projects by the state-run Korea National Oil if an energy supply strain arises.
The move is part of state efforts to tackle potential supply chain disruptions amid escalating tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine and global sanctions against Moscow.
"If the situation gets protracted, we are very concerned that its impact on the economy will likely expand, given that the effect of the Ukraine crisis on the real economy has begun to be felt," Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said.
Korea's exports to Russia and Ukraine fell 11 percent and 99 percent, respectively, in the first 10 days of March from a year earlier.
The country's consumer inflation rose 3.7 percent on-year in February, marking the fifth straight month that inflation has grown more than 3 percent, amid surging energy costs.
Korea has joined multinational moves to impose sanctions on Russia, including export controls and removing Moscow from the SWIFT global payment system. (Yonhap)