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Lawmakers Mulling Free Trade Impact

Posted August. 01, 2006 03:02,   


The “Special committee for the Korea-U.S. FTA in the national assembly” kicked off yesterday with an opening session to deal with the Korea-U.S. FTA issues at the lawmaker level.

The special committee consists of 20 lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties, including the chairman of the committee, ruling Uri Party lawmaker Hong Jae-hyung, and supreme advisers, Song Young-gil from the Uri Party and Yoon Geon-young from Grand National Party. Their tenures are due to the end of June next year.

The committee has heard about the whole process of the FTA, including the first and second talks with the U.S. delegates, from Kwon Oh-gyu, the minister of Finance and Economy, Kim Hyun-jong, minister of Trade, Kim Jong-hoon, the Korean chief negotiator.

The lawmakers’ attempt will involve a weekly meeting starting from next week and sit with concerned ministers such as Finance and Economy, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Maritime Affaires and Fisheries, Commerce, Industry and Energy ministers, to address issues ranged from finance, industry, trade, to agriculture sectors.

Particularly, the committee came to an agreement to prepare countermeasures and to cope with future negotiations over the concession of the products’ sector concerning general products, textile and agricultural products, which is schedule to trade the initial offer with each side by August 15.

In the meanwhile, as an anti Korea-U.S. FTA group published a report last month arguing, “The FTA with the U.S. could be interpreted as a practical merger to the U.S. empire,” the government came up with countermeasures to retort an argument against the anti-FTA logic by releasing public reports soon.

27 people collaborated to write this report of 726 pages, including Kim Se-hyun, a professor of Seoul National University, and other scholars and experts from the anti-FTA group.

In this report, professor Kim argued, “The Korea-U.S. FTA features an all-out attack to exploit the majority of Korean laborers and people by the U.S. based-transnational capitals and domestic monopolized capitals integrated with those of the U.S.”

Choi Hyung-ik, a professor of international relations at Hanshin University, argued, “Practically, the FTA with the U.S. will boil down to handing over our sovereignty to the U.S. empire.”

Bae Sung-in, a professor of North Korean studies at Myongji University, explained, “The movement against the Korea-U.S. FTA can be considered as nothing else but the anti-U.S. army base movement, the so-called Pyeongtaek struggle. These movements are absolutely crucial in keeping both North and South Koreans alive and awake.”

A source from the Roh administration said, “Unconditional opposition is not right although I understand a variety of points of view over the FTA talks. My understanding is that the government is set to release a public report to reveal flaws in the logic of the anti-FTA group.”

An observer from the anti-FTA group urged, “If argument is necessary, the Roh administration should unveil the draft of its concessions and hold public hearings instead of publishing a report so that even opponents could be convinced.”

taylor55@donga.com zeitung@donga.com