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Bumpy road seen for FTA’s parliamentary ratification

Posted December. 06, 2010 10:34,   


The ruling and opposition parties are set to lock horns over the free trade agreement with the U.S. to be submitted for parliamentary ratification early next year. Rival parties have shown clear differences over the recently concluded accord.

The ruling Grand National Party said Sunday, “Korea and the U.S. have laid the foundation to generate a win-win situation.”

Opposition parties including the main opposition Democratic Party and the Liberty Forward Party said, however, that Seoul failed to ensure national interests.

The previous version of the deal cleared the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee in April last year. Since provisions in the accord have changed due to additional negotiations, however, a new bill must get approval from the committee and the parliamentary plenary session.

The ruling party intended to focus on negotiations with the opposition whenever possible but since it has a parliamentary majority, it can railroad the bill through the main session even if opposition parties reject it.

Opposition parties could seek to physically block the bill from being put to a vote, however. In December 2008, opposition members of the committee even mobilized a hammer to block the free trade bill from being submitted to a ratification vote, resulting in a violent clash.

Ruling party floor leader Kim Moo-sung told reporters Sunday, “The accord is well a negotiated deal in its new form,” adding, “I think that if we have a chance, we’d like to brief (the results of additional negotiations) to the National Assembly within this year before taking steps to get it approved early next year.”

The Democratic Party thought otherwise, however. In a party meeting to counter the agreement Sunday, floor leader Park Jie-won said, “We are clearly opposed to the humiliating negotiations and highly generous negotiations (for the U.S.),” heralding an intense dispute.

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