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[Editorial] Public Acceptance Required for KORUS FTA Ratification

[Editorial] Public Acceptance Required for KORUS FTA Ratification

Posted June. 30, 2007 04:14,   


The negotiations for the KORUS FTA have finally been settled. Now is the time for the National Assembly to be handed the task to verify the political justification of the negotiations. Given the timeline of domestic politics, the National Assembly needs to ratify the agreement text soon because as the December presidential election nears, it could be put on the back burner in the National Assembly because of the election.

When the government submits the ratification motion on the KORUS FTA to the September regular session at the National Assembly, it ought to promptly conduct deliberations by the Standing Committee of National Assembly and proceed with voting procedures at the plenary session. If Korea ratifies it soon, it could pressure the U.S. Congress to ratify it without delays.

In the U.S., some congressmen oppose the agreement text, saying that the Korean market is not open enough, and the procedures in motioning ratification in Congress are more complicated vis-à-vis Korea’s. Therefore, some delays are expected.

The KORUS FTA negotiations started with President Roh’s New Year’s address last year. Throughout the overall negotiation procedures, his will was reflected. Completion of the KORUS FTA is the biggest achievement of the current government. It is imperative for President Roh to explain what has been negotiated to the National Assembly and each political party, and genuinely persuade them to pass a timely ratification motion in the National Assembly. If there is one thing President Roh has to do before anything else, it is to finish off the KORUS FTA with no regrets.

The government must inform the public of what is in the FTA text, what its effects, and what its preparatory measures are. Opponents of the FTA, including some lawmakers, argue, “Stopping the FTA could intensify bipolarization in our society.” Strikes and protests against the FTA took place yesterday as well. The government must ensure that people do not fall prey to their nonsensical logic. Unless the public is well aware of the FTA and makes accurate decisions, ratification by the National Assembly will be difficult.

The KORUS FTA will upgrade the Korean economy, but its ripple effects are hard to fathom. However, focusing on covering up losses just like the complementary measures that the government proposed two days ago is not conducive. Measures to survive in the competition with U.S. products based on stronger competitiveness in the mid-to-long haul ought to be pushed forward.