National
Parties expected to pass Korea-EU FTA
Published : May 3, 2011 - 19:24
Updated : May 3, 2011 - 19:24
Parties will hold a provisional session where the disputed Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement is expected to pass, despite their failure to reach a consensus during the April plenary session.

The ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party, together with government officials, met in a post-deadline debate on Monday and decided to pass the delayed bill during the special parliamentary session on Wednesday.

Floor leaders of both parties, lawmakers of the National Assembly Knowledge Economy Committee, and officials of the agriculture, knowledge and finance ministries attended the debate.

The parliament-government consultative body also agreed on some of the adjective laws related to the FTA bill, officials said.

They agreed to strengthen controls of large supermarkets, such as U.K.-owned Homeplus, by banning them from within a 1 kilometer radius of small traditional markets, instead of the previously suggested 500 meters, to protect local businesses.

Also, higher government subsidies will be available to farmers who are likely to suffer losses due to a possible fall in prices of domestic agricultural and livestock goods after the trade deal goes into effect.

The government will also compensate up to 90 percent of losses in cash, should the price of the corresponding goods drop below the 85 percent level within 10 years from FTA effectuation, officials said.

During this 10-year grace period, agriculture and livestock farmers will be exempted from value added taxes on their assorted feed and agricultural equipment.

In return for the hard-earned parliamentary consensus, the government will take further steps to protect local industries from potential harm and work with the EU to revise the mistranslated FTA clauses, officials said.

“Both the government and the assembly have stepped back to reach this compromise,” said GNP floor leader Kim Moo-sung.

DP officials also expressed satisfaction over the reinforced preventive measures.

The minority Democratic Labor Party, however, criticized the DP for compromising with the GNP.

“The adjective law restricting the location of large supermarkets will do little to protect the local merchants once the FTA goes into effect,” said DLP leader Lee Jung-hee.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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