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Twenty Farmers’ Groups Conditionally Agree on FTA

Posted November. 13, 2003 22:42,   


“National Farmers’ Group Council”, which consists of 20 farmers groups including the “full-time farmers’ central union,” insisted upon the National Assembly’s ratification for Korea-Chile Free Trade Agreement on condition of extending support to farmers.

It is the first time for the farmers’ groups to urge the National Assembly and the government to propel the FTA, and it is expected to bring a turning point to the discussion on FTA, which was in a standstill due to the resistance from farmers. 10 of the farmers’ group leaders, including the president of the “National Farmers’ Group Council” Choi Jun-gu, held a press conference in a conference room at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on November 13 and presented the statement titled “Openly demanding the ratification for Korea-Chile FTA…” in the name of the affiliated groups under the “National Farmers’ Group Council.”

By this statement, they revealed that “although the counter plan which the government presented to farmers before this FTA ratification was unsatisfactory, they urged the National Assembly to ratify it on the conditions of improving the counter plan, making an allowance for the fact that the FTA is unavoidable.”

The conditions presented by the “National Farmers’ Group Council” on that day were “to increase the amount of the FTA special fund from 800 billion won to 1,300 billion won”, “to include mutual finance and fund for improving management in countermeasures for debt”, “to decrease the interest rates of the policy-operating fund from 4 percent to 3 percent”, and “to extend the time period to impose special taxes for fishing and agrarian villages from 5 years to 10 years”.

In regards to this, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said on that day that Agriculture, Forestry, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Committee is discussing reduction of seven trillion won of farming families’ debt and increasing the FTA special fund with the Ministry’s concern and insisted on the National Assembly’s reflecting upon it.

Meanwhile, the other farmers’ groups which didn’t participate in this press conference, including Korean Farmers League (KFL) and Korean Advanced Farmers Federation (KAFF), outwardly disagreed with the ratification of the Korea-Chile FTA.

Lee Young-soo, a policy secretary of KFL, said, “It is a loss for our country to conclude an FTA with Chile with which we will have an annual trade deficit of $300 million. The anti-FTA ratification demonstration under the supervision of farmers’ joint group, scheduled on November 19, will be held in Yeoui-do, Seoul as originally planned.”

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com