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[Editorial] Political Leaders Should Maximize Effort for FTA Ratification

[Editorial] Political Leaders Should Maximize Effort for FTA Ratification

Posted May. 20, 2008 03:55,   


The National Assembly’s extra session will end in four days. The plenary session is scheduled for two days starting May 22. These are the last two days left for the 17th National Assembly to ratify the KORUS FTA. After the 18th general elections, the extra session was all that the 17th parliament had to deal with the urgent issue of FTA ratification. The FTA hearings, however, have transformed into those on U.S. beef and mad cow disease, and the chances for the ratification are getting even lower.

If we miss the opportunity now, we have to go through it all over again at the 18th National Assembly. It is almost impossible to tell how many more months will be spent in that case. Considering the U.S. presidential election and busy schedules of Congress, more delay could mean that the KORUS FTA will be in the hands of a new president after President George W. Bush steps down. The next administration might want to renegotiate the entire trade deal or even nullify it.

Yesterday, when Grand National Party Chairman Kang Jae-sup met with President Lee Myung-bak and suggested a meeting with the leader of the opposition party and the assembly speaker, Lee answered that it is a good idea. We wonder what they have been doing until now, when only a few days are left before the end of the parliamentary term. They should have met a long time ago. Still, we should bet on the thin possibility left in the meeting.

The United Democratic Party accepted President Lee’s proposal though with the condition that “the overall state of affairs, including the beef negotiation, should be discussed.” It is difficult even for the UDP to neglect the urgency of the KORUS FTA ratification. We hope UDP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu will show determination. The government also said it would announce the result of its discussion with Washington in regards to the inclusion of a written article on the “sovereignty of quarantine.” The UDP should return to the initial issue of the FTA, if it did not agree to the meeting from a strategic perspective.

Also, President Lee and Kang should not turn around as if their duty was fulfilled with the meeting between the leaders of both sides. They should make the best effort until the last moment to induce cooperation from the opposition camps. Former Chairwoman Park Geun-hye and Liberty Forefront Party Chair Lee Hoi-chang will also have to add support so that the 17th National Assembly can focus on the KORUS FTA during the remaining time. The people will not wait long to make judgment on the attitudes of the political leaders with regard to the KORUS FTA.