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[Editorial] Absurd Arguments from FTA Opponents

Posted April. 02, 2007 08:05,   


Those who oppose a free trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. argue, “Those who would sign the deal are traitors who sell this country to them,” or, “If the deal is reached, Koreans will be forced to eat meat of BSE-affected cows.”

Korea ranks at the 11th to 13th in terms of GDP and exports, relying on 80 to 90 percent of its economic growth on external sectors. Moreover, the 21st Century is a global era in which the key to enhanced competitiveness is mutual cooperation among countries in investment and trade. It is nonsense that citizens of the world’s 11th largest economy in this global era would eat BSE-affected meat because of the FTA with the U.S.

It is hard to understand either the hunger strikes by would-be presidential candidates, namely Kim Geun-tae and Chun Jung-bae, and the opposition from the 48 lawmakers elected from farming villages who formed something known as the “Agriculture Party.” Any even-headed politician would present a strategy to maximize national interests by actively tapping into the proposed deal and improve people’s livelihoods.

Furthermore, it is responsibility of politicians to come up with comprehensive measures for the agriculture sector, while appropriately distributing the increasing sum of national wealth.

However, the aforementioned politicians instead began to stage hunger strikes when the deal was about to be sealed, after keeping silence in the backseats of their luxury cars when the negotiations were going on. They were against the FTA with Chile, saying, “We oppose it for our people,” and even more fiercely oppose an FTA with America. However, one might wonder if they have a strategy for revitalizing the farming sector. They just chant, “No to market opening,” to appeal to voters in rural areas. But that does not automatically solve the problems facing the inefficient, distorted agricultural sector.

When the free trade deal was concluded with Chile in 2004, opponents of the deal argued that Korea’s agriculture sector would collapse and that the country would lose sovereignty over food and face a national crisis. However, export to Chile have expanded by a whopping 30 times since then, while import from the country have only tripled.

The North Korean regime then put forward absurd arguments such as the South should not sign an FTA with the U.S. even as they are obsessed with security guarantees from Washington. It is deplorable that arguments reminiscent of the North’s rhetoric prevail in the South.