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Lawmakers Open Rice Market to Imports

Posted November. 24, 2005 08:29,   


Because the National Assembly ratified the international deal which will open the nation’s restricted rice market wider to imports on Wednesday, Korea will earn a 10-year grace period before it fully opens its rice market in 2014.

In return, the nation is required to raise its rice import quota gradually for the next 10 years starting this year. Some of the imported rice will be directly sold to Korean consumers.

A total of 223 out of 299 lawmakers cast ballots at the plenary session. The National Assembly passed the bill on the rice market opening by a vote of 139 vs. 61, with 23 abstentions.

Democratic Labor Party lawmakers disrupted the procedure by occupying the chairman’s seat and getting physically violent with ruling party lawmakers for thirty minutes before votes were cast electronically.

Ahead of the vote, the ruling Uri Party argued for the vote according to the opinion of each party, and the Grand National Party argued for a free vote. The Millennium Democratic Party, the Democratic Labor Party and some lawmakers from rural areas called for a postponement of the vote.

With the passage of the bill, Korea is required to import rice beginning this year during the grace period.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com legman@donga.com