Posted March. 17, 2009 09:23,
Korea and the European Union will soon conclude a free trade agreement. The two sides are likely to fine-tune contentious matters in their eighth round of negotiations in Seoul at the end of the month, and announce an agreement in London early next month. The EU is Koreas second-largest trading partner next to China. Striking a free trade agreement with the EU is as significant as the deal with the United States.
The free trade agreement will present a new opportunity for economic development for both Korea and the EU. Korea can get equal access to the EU markets population of nearly 500 million and value of 14.2 trillion dollars. Korea can gain momentum in negotiating similar deals with other countries and boost confidence in negotiating with other countries. The EU is expected to expand to China and Japan as well as Korea through the agreement, and have a louder voice on the global economic stage.
Signs of protectionism have been detected in every part of the world since the global economic crisis began. If all countries shut their doors because of the crisis, however, they all will collapse. They should not forget the lesson of the Great Depression of 1929, in which protectionism led to the collapse of the global economy and fostered totalitarianism in certain countries, contributing to the outbreak of World War Ⅱ. Hopefully, the Korea-EU agreement can stem protectionism and serve as a reminder of the importance of free trade in the international economic order.
Another benefit of the Korea-EU deal is that it could pressure the Obama administration and Congress to pass the Korea-U.S. agreement. Washington must recognize that ratifying the agreement as agreed and implementing it is the best option for the world as well as the two countries. Hinting at a renegotiation through the U.S. Trade Representative to Korea undermines the Korean peoples confidence in the Obama administration.
The National Assembly must pay attention to the moves of the United States. It should not get drawn into time-consuming debate. Instead, both the ruling and opposition parties must ratify the Korea-U.S. deal and prepare to enact supporting laws. Seoul must also persuade Washington to do its best to ratify the agreement and take follow-up measures.