Bipartisan agreements nudge legislative activity

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Bipartisan agreements nudge legislative activity

The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to discuss the Korea-China free trade agreement (FTA) among its concerned committees and form a consultative body with the government in October to come up with measures to protect the industries expected to suffer damages.

The floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) met with their deputies Monday to discuss a series of issues that have hindered legislative activities, one of which was the ratification of the Korea-China FTA.

The Korea-China FTA, expected to eventually eliminate tariffs on about 90 percent of the goods traded between the two countries, was finalized in November 2014. China and Korea officially signed the deal in June and it will enter into force later this year once the legislatures of both countries approve it. The ruling party took the first step toward approving the FTA by unilaterally introducing a motion for its ratification at the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. The opposition NPAD lawmakers boycotted the session to demand more deliberation on the issue through the creation of a special committee.

At Monday’s talks, four negotiators from the Saenuri Party and the NPAD discussed the Korea-China FTA and agreed that the concerned committees - which include the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee; and the Trade, Industry and Energy Committee - would consider measures to cover industry losses expected to be incurred from the FTA.

The two sides also agreed that a consultative body made up of officials from the ruling and opposition parties and the government would be established in October to outline a compensation measure based on all the committees’ recommendations.

About 880 billion won ($730 million) was earmarked this year in total for special operations for the government.

The legislature was afforded 8.4 billion won, while about 90 percent was put toward the security budgets of the National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Blue House and the prosecution, according to the ruling and opposition parties.

The agreement normalizes legislative activities. A vote will be held today to pass urgent economic bills.

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