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Korean Negotiators Ready for Korea-EU FTA Talks

Posted May. 08, 2007 07:46,   


In an announcement concluding the KORUS FTA agreement on April 2, Kim Hyun-chong, Korea’s trade minister, said, “Our negotiators have been reborn as trade warriors. These same negotiators will be committed to the Korea-EU FTA talks which will begin next month.”

Kim Han-soo, the chief negotiator in the free trade talks with the EU, is known as an FTA veteran within the government.

After passing the 19th national examination for 5th grade public servants, Kim began his career as a commerce official at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy). When a trade department was created at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1998, he moved to the department to work in his “major” field.

Since then, he has urged Korea to strike FTA deals. In 2003, he put forward an FTA roadmap and participated in FTA talks with Chile, Singapore, Japan, Mexico, and Canada.

“I feel it was just a few days ago when I started FTA work with one official, but now we have already begun FTA talks with the EU, the world’s biggest market. I feel a huge responsibility,” he said.

Chief negotiator Kim Han-soo likes reading and is a typical “iron fist in a velvet glove.” He stands in contrast to Kim Jong-hoon, the chief negotiator of the KORUS FTA, who is determined and combative and started his career as a diplomat.

Nam Yeong-sook, the senior FTA official at the trade department who is in charge of procurement and copyrights, is called Korea’s “Carla Hills.”

She made a famous comment “Over my dead body” when the U.S. insisted, during the KORUS FTA talks, that it should be the market that would set technical standards in the communications sector and finally secured Korean government’s right to decide technical standards.

Ms. Nam earned a BA degree in economics at Korea University and MA and doctoral degrees in economics at Stanford University. She has also worked at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Kim Yeong-mo, trade coordinator at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, and Lee Gyeong-sik, FTA support manager at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), were in charge of affairs regarding their ministries. Kim and Lee earned an MA degree in Law from Harvard University and an MBA from Yale University, respectively.

Kim Jun-dong, in charge of industrial technology cooperation, and Baek Du-ok, in charge of trade relief policy, both from the MOCIE, and Chung Hyun-chul, FTA manager at the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, who played important roles in the KORUS FTA talks, have been called in again.

Yoon Seong-deok, in charge of conflict resolution and sustainable development at the trade ministry, is involved in trade with Europe and was working on preparatory FTA negotiations with the EU earlier.