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Amb. Han Stresses Need to Ratify Free Trade Deal With US

Amb. Han Stresses Need to Ratify Free Trade Deal With US

Posted October. 16, 2009 08:22,   


Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Duck-soo yesterday said prompt ratification of the free trade deal with the U.S. is necessary for closer bilateral relations and sustainable growth of both countries.

Han was speaking at a seminar on free trade deals concluded by the U.S. with Korea, Panama and Colombia hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank. The three agreements await congressional ratification.

The Korean Embassy’s minister for the economy Choi Jong-hyun also stressed the need for early approval of the pact at another seminar hosted by the Korea Economic Institute the same day.

Citing the tentative signing of the free trade deal between Korea and the European Union, he said, “Though negotiations for the Korea-EU FTA began later than those for the Korea-U.S. FTA, the Korea-EU FTA will likely take effect in the first half of next year thanks to simple implementation procedures.”

“Many U.S. products compete with EU products in the Korean market, so Washington should not delay ratification.”

Another embassy official said, “Health care reform, U.S. President Barack Obama’s key agenda, passed the last standing committee and is likely to be signed into law by year’s end. So we need to emphasize that ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA should be Obama’s main agenda.”

Han had said recently, “Opportunities will arise late this year to early next year to urge the U.S. to approve the agreement,” adding, “Taking the opportunity of Obama’s visit to Korea on the occasion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore next month, we will urge President Obama to ratify the free trade accord.”

Along with U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens, Han toured major U.S. cities such as Chicago and Detroit last month to gather support for the agreement’s ratification from influential politicians and businessmen. He will visit Dallas and Houston late this month.

Since assuming his post in March, Han has lobbied for the agreement’s ratification by meeting about 80 U.S. senators and congressmen.