Korea, China Hold 4th FTA Talks Amid Opposition
The fourth round of free trade negotiations between Korea and China is currently under way in Korea's southeastern city of Gyeongju.
During the three-day meeting, the two sides will work on classifying goods that will be treated as "sensitive" in the deal.
Outside the meeting hall, security was unusually tight, with police guarding even the road leading up to the site.
This, in anticipation of a massive protest by those who oppose the trade pact.
[Reporter : Hwang Sung-hee
email@example.com] "I'm just a five-minute drive away from the meeting venue. As you can see right behind me, hundreds of farmers and fishermen have gathered here to protest against the trade pact, which they see as a major threat to their livelihoods."
[Interview : Lee Sang-won, Farmer] "Korea and China are geographically very close, which is why the deal will deliver a direct blow to the agriculture industry. The two countries are so close that fruits and vegetables from China can be shipped to Korea overnight."
Once the Korean market is open to cheaper produce from China, local fruit production is expected to drop by over one billion U.S. dollars, and vegetables by over 900 million dollars over a ten-year period.
The farmers and fishermen have been protesting during the negotiations, as they believe the government has pushed ahead with the trade deal in spite of their concerns.
[Interview : Lee Kwang-seok, Farmer] "Before proceeding with the trade deal, the government must first talk with farmers on how to protect the agriculture industry. That's why we are demanding that the government stop the negotiations for now."
The bilateral trade deal is expected to raise Korea's gross domestic product by two-percent over the next 10 years and provide around 27 billion dollars in economic benefits.
But for now, getting the nation's agriculture sector on board seems to be one of the most pressing issues on the table.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News, Gyeongju.
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org