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Truckers' strike halts trade worth almost five billion dollars

Seoul: Export-dependent South Korea said Tuesday that a strike by container truck drivers in protest at soaring fuel prices has disrupted international trade worth almost five billion dollars.
The stoppage by more than 13,000 drivers, in its fifth day Tuesday, has crippled major ports and inland cargo terminals where containers are stacking up.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said the strike had affected exports worth 2.31 billion dollars and imports worth 2.43 billion as of late Monday.
drivers.
Officials at the largest port, Busan, fear the stoppage will hit its status as the region's main transhipment port as storage space fills up, the JoongAng Daily reported.
"We worry that shipping companies will move their transhipment hubs to foreign ports," it quoted port authority marketing manager Kang Bu-Won as saying.
Local firms are beginning to face problems receiving raw materials and exporting finished goods. "Shipments have come to a halt now," a spokeswoman for steeelmaker POSCO told AFP.
Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo urged the port drivers Tuesday to return to work and promised to address demands for fuel subsidies, higher wages and others steps.
"Truck drivers must trust the government's promise to promptly solve problems in the country's cargo transportation system and stop their walkout immediately," Han told a cabinet meeting.
"We must turn this into an opportunity to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the soaring oil prices."
All pleas have thus far fallen on deaf ears. Korea is used to trucker disputes, with as many as three in the last four years severely disrupting trade at the nation's ports. [17/6/08]


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