Posted April. 18, 2005 23:23,
Korea has decided to purchase 111,210 tons of rice as a form of food aid to North Korea from India and Egypt until 2014, instead of delaying the timing of the opening of its rice market.
In addition, the Korean government plans to proceed with its quarantine procedure for Argentine oranges and poultry within four months and six months, respectively, and to sharply lower the tariff rate on Canadian feed peas and refined rape seed oil.
On April 18, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry revealed the original text of certification by the World Trade Organization (WTO) including the above mentioned contents at the standing committee of the Agriculture, Forestry, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Committee and stated details on the additional agreement between Korea and the WTO.
According to the certification of negotiation on rice, Korea promised to promptly conduct a quarantine procedure for five Chinese products, such as apples, pears, cherries, longans, and lichis.
Also, the Korean government decided to purchase 91,210 tons of Indian rice (9,121 tons yearly) and 20,000 tons of Egyptian rice for food aid to North Korea.
Regarding the matter, trade experts noted that China, India, and Egypt, which are all rice exporters, might have used the additional agreement as a major issue in the negotiations, while allowing Korea to postpone the timing of opening up its rice market.
Trade experts added that Koreas additional agreements with Argentina and Canada, which are not rice exporters, look to have little to do with the rice negotiations.
Korea agreed to finish its inspection process for Argentine poultry and oranges, currently under quarantine within six months, and four months, respectively.
The tariff rate on Canadian feed peas will be reduced to 0 percent from two percent last year.
Apart from feed peas, the tariff rate on Canadian refined rape oil and on raw rapeseed oil will be cut down to 10 percent from last years 30 percent, and to eight percent from 10 percent last year.
Regarding the above mentioned matter, lawmakers from the four opposition parties local constituencies and proportional representation agreed to push forward with an investigation into national affairs, saying that there is suspicion behind-closed-door agreements were made in the process of negotiations on rice.
Lawmakers from the four opposition parties, including Lee Gyu-taek (Grand National Party), Gang Gi-gab (Democratic Labor Party), Han Hwa-gab (Millennium Democratic Party), and Kim Nak-seong (United Liberal Democrats) determined to conduct an investigation into the rice negotiations at their meeting at the National Assembly Hall.
The lawmakers maintained in their joint statement that considering the government, which had claimed that items not related to rice were not the negotiation issues, promised speedy quarantine of fruits to China and is considering imports of Argentine beef, the Korean government made agreements with the five countries under the table.
They also said that the government accepted unreasonable demands when faced with a negotiation deadline last year, and that they requested that the government reveal the full text of the content of the negotiations with partners, and that they will investigate into the national affairs, if necessary.
Park Hong-soo, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, said that there werent any behind-closed-door deals with other countries, and the Ministry didnt intentionally distort or announced the contents.