The paper analyzes the potential trade distortion effects of state trading enterprises (STEs) on soybean imports to Korea. Traditionally, STEs have exercised exclusive rights to import the so-called strategic products, to ensure food security, domestic price stabilization, and import mark-ups. However, STE imports have been criticized on the grounds that industries using soybeans as a raw material are unable to obtain a diverse mix of quality material and cannot exercise the "right to choose" their own ingredients. Under a theoretical framework, a tariff equivalent of the STE is postulated to equate imports by private firms with imports by the STE. An empirical model is constructed and estimated using annual data spanning 1980-2009. The estimated results show that providing exclusive rights to imports has a negative effect on market access. When the STE pursues consumer welfare, the import-reducing effect turns out to be smaller than that in the producer welfare maximization case.
The data set for this article can be found at: http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/20447