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Nat’l Assembly Begins Deliberating FTA with U.S.

Posted February. 14, 2008 07:14,   


The National Assembly yesterday began deliberating the free trade agreement with the United States five months after the deal was submitted to parliament.

The parliamentary committee on unification, foreign affairs and trade in a meeting put the pact on the official agenda as supported by a bipartisan agreement. Kwon Young-ghil, a lawmaker with the progressive Democratic Labor Party, boycotted the meeting because of his opposition to the deal. Choi Seong, a lawmaker with the liberal United New Democratic Party who demanded further review of the agreement, left prior to the official introduction of the motion.

The legislature will review the deal from Friday at the committee’s first public hearing. When the committee passes it, the agreement will be introduced to the full parliamentary session.

The majority of lawmakers with the conservative Grand National Party and certain members of the UNDP have pledged to ratify the agreement during the current parliamentary session.

Still, prospects are dim that the accord will be passed before the April general elections. The majority of UNDP and DLP members either oppose the deal or demand that action be taken only when the U.S. Congress moves in the same direction.

Yesterday’s dialog was held in a different venue and under tighter security, after the labor party’s members occupied the conference room Monday and Tuesday to prevent the committee from holding the meeting.

Prior to the meeting, committee chairman Kim Won-woong said the deal’s ratification is the political duty of the 17th National Assembly.

Seoul’s chief negotiator to the free talks with Washington Kim Jong-hoon, when asked why Korea is moving first when the United States is showing a lukewarm reaction to the deal, said Congress will ratify the agreement within this year.

srkim@donga.com jin0619@donga.com