The government believes that China has unofficially restricted exports of urea in the prioritization of domestic supply amid a delay in customs procedures for shipments of the compound to South Korea.
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy spokesperson Choi Nam-ho said on Monday that the customs delay has been confirmed, but that no political background has been verified through various communication channels.
The spokesperson said the delay has been attributed to an internal strain in the supply of urea, a compound used in many diesel vehicles to convert dangerous nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen gas and water.
According to the South Korean government and businesses, the Chinese customs agency abruptly halted export procedures for urea deliveries bound for South Korea last Thursday.
While Seoul has a sufficient inventory of urea to last about three months, the government is reportedly preparing response steps for various scenarios that include a prolonged customs delay in a bid to prevent a repeat of the 2021 supply shortage.
The government is also set to check up on the domestic market situation, while seeking ways to diversify import channels and increase urea reserve.