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UDP to Denounce Gov’t at Hearing on U.S. Beef Imports

Posted May. 07, 2008 08:17,   


Kim Hyo-seok, floor leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), said in a speech at the National Assembly on Tuesday that the beef import negotiation between Korea and the United States had created fears among consumers, driven cattle farmers into despair and made the nation suffer humiliation.

“Though the UDP is not opposed to beef imports by any means, there are things that must be settled first. We must draw up measures that can ensure public health and protect those who may suffer from the deal,” said Kim.

Kim pointed out that Seoul cannot ban U.S. beef even if specified risk materials (SRMs), a main factor in mad cow disease, are found in U.S. beef shipments. “When this happens, the government should impose a temporary suspension. However, the bilateral agreement shows that the government has given up this right.”

Kim also added that the government has not given serious consideration to the future of the domestic livestock industry. “How can a subsidy of 100,000 to 200,000 won per cattle be a feasible solution for cattle farmers,” he said.

The UDP floor leader said that the party will seek all measures to rectify the “wrong negotiation” at the parliamentary hearing on the beef imports to be held today. Kim said that the UDP would use the hearing to address the process of the “hasty and humiliating negotiation,” government measures for livestock farmers, clarify who is responsible for the poor policies, and seek ways to nullify or reopen the negotiations.

“Despite mounting public opposition, the Lee Myung-bak administration has pushed the cross-country canal project, appointed [controversial] ministers and forced CEOs of public corporations to tender their resignations. A government that ignores the public, abandons its quarantine sovereignty [regarding U.S. beef] and historical sovereignty [regarding relations with Japan] is an outdated government that runs the economy by heavily depending on an old style of growth and on over-powerful conglomerates,” said Kim.