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Assembly panel passes Korea-EU free trade pact

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the National Assembly passed the long-stalled Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement on Thursday as rival parties compromised to cut taxes for small livestock farms.

The agreement will now be forwarded to the plenary session on Friday and, if approved, will take effect this July.

During the panel session, government officials reported their preventive measures to save small livestock farms from the financial hit expected after the bill goes into force. One of the major steps is the exemption of the transfer income tax.

Under the measure, the government is to cut down on all transfer income taxes for livestock farmers who decide to shut down their farms within three years after the FTA takes effect, officials said.

Opposition lawmakers charged that the government measures were not sufficient to curb the extensive damage expected in the local livestock industry upon the FTA’s effectuation.

“The FTA bill needs further discussion to gain the public understanding and support,” said Kim Dong-cheol of the main opposition Democratic Party, demanding that the issue be delayed further.

Ruling party lawmakers, however, emphasized that the bill should be passed for the agreement to take effect this July.

“I urge the government to take additional steps to protect the local farming industry and also prevent mistranslations in future processes,” Nam Kyung-pil, chairman of the committee, before closing the meeting.

A total of 17 committee members among 25 voted to pass the bill and six abstained.

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