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[Editorial] Drop Unfounded Oppositions to the KORUS FTA

Posted May. 26, 2007 03:38,   


The full text of Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which was unveiled yesterday, contained as many as 1,400 typed pages. Although there is some new text, much of the content is nothing new. According to the text, when trade conflicts occur, we must resort to the World Trade Organization for a settlement, since there is no method for dispute settlements on U.S. anti-dumping tariffs, which leaves something to be desired. A new provision stipulates that safeguard measures on some products can be put in motion only once, a method which is usually exercised by the U.S. who imports many industrial goods. Under the agreement, South Korea maintains import safeguards on 30 types of agricultural products. Therefore, limiting such measures should be advantageous to our nation.

Although there remain conflicts of interest depending on provisions, most critics agree that the agreement reflects balanced national interests between the two countries. This clearly defies the previous anti-FTA opponents’ argument that the agreement is unfavorable to the country. Immediately after the conclusion of the agreement, opponents also argued that the agreement showed some advantages to the nation, while hiding the opposite provisions, which also turned out to be inaccurate. Since the agreement is the full text of the bilateral agreement, now only waiting to be ratified at the end of the month, such a conspiracy theory cannot stand.

Representatives Kim Geun-tae and Chun Jung-bae continued to oppose the Korea-U.S. FTA in the National Assembly. Some lawmakers from rural regions also blindly oppose market liberalization without coming up with alternatives to the issue. Such an attitude shows a stark contrast to global trends. Now is the time we ought to brace ourselves to keep up with globalization by opening our domestic industries.

Additional negotiations in the Korea-U.S. FTA are possible given that new U.S. legal standards on labor and the environment have been introduced. The two negotiating parties seek their bilateral interests based on a mutual trust to overcome possible obstacles.

Only the ratification of the agreement is left. The agreement will take effect 60 days after the two countries clarify that all the necessary legal measures have been completed. Although the current domestic political responses are mixed, there is no reason to delay this measure until the next government takes office. This is a good opportunity for political circles that have only disappointed the public to gain some positive ground.