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4th Round of Free Trade Talks Begin

Posted October. 23, 2006 07:01,   


The fourth round of negotiations on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is slated for October 23-27 at the Jungmun Resort in Jeju Island, Korea.

Korean delegates include chief negotiator Kim Jong-hoon, and some 251 officials from 13 public institutions and 26 government ministries and agencies. About 104 American counterparts, including chief negotiator Wendy Cutler will participate. The round will deal with 16 divisions, including commercial goods, agricultural products, and textiles, and working-level negotiations in automobile and pharmaceutical areas. Government procurement division negotiations were held separately in Geneva on October 16.

Korea and the U.S. are likely to start their negotiations on easy areas where they have little differences, delaying more controversial issues such as rice and goods produced in Gaesong Industrial Complex to later negotiations. This move is understood to be preparation for the fifth round, scheduled for early December, to discuss larger deals.

On October 22, the day before the fourth round of the KORUS FTA negotiation, tension was intensifying around the negotiating place, the Shilla Hotel.

On 7:00 a.m. that day, police established a temporary checkpoint in front of the entry of the Jungmun Resort. Stepped-up security around the place has been raising tensions. People can usually travel into the resort to front of the hotel with an airport limousine ride from Jeju international airport. From the day, however, the identity of tourists visiting the Jungmun resort had to be confirmed at the checkpoint.

Anti-KORUS FTA groups have arrived at the Jeju Island, and they held a series of press conferences on October 22. “The agro-livestock committee against the KORUS FTA" held a press conference at the Jeju airport and called for the stop of the negotiation. The committee comprises 50 members of the Korean Alliance against the KoRUS FTA and 43 other groups such as the Korean Advanced Farmers Federation.

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