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Opposition candidate`s disdain for FTA with US

Posted October. 20, 2012 07:56,   


In the Korean movie industry, the number of annual cumulative moviegoers is about to hit 100 million for the first time ever this year. The number of people who watched the movies “The Thieves” and “Gwanghae: The Man Who Became King” is also close to surpassing 10 million each. Despite fierce protest by the Korean movie community, the Roh Moo-hyun administration cut screen quota that obliges cinemas to play Korean movies 146 days to 73 days per year. The Korean movie industry, which they warned would collapse, is enjoying a boon on the contrary. In 1998, many critics warned that Korea will be bombarded and dominated by “Japanese style culture,” ahead of the opening of the Korean popular culture market to Japan, but it proved wrong. On the contrary, a sense of crisis and self-rescue efforts by the popular culture community has resulted in the elevation of Korean pop culture’s level and its internationalization. As part of this trend, Hallyu, or the popular Korean pop culture, has started to sweep the world.

The Korean people have achieved the “Miracle of the Han River,” which is unprecedented anywhere in the world, through free trade and international competition. This has happed due to bold opening of the market and its advance into the global market to compete with the world. If Korea closed its market to help protect the local industry, it would have no chance to generate export champions such as Samsung Electronics or Hyundai Motor, or Global Hallyu.

In his congratulatory remarks at a forum Thursday, Moon Jae-in, main opposition Democratic United Party presidential candidate, “There is serious concern over detrimental clauses in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, including the Investor-State Dispute or ISD. I will correct disinterest for Korea through renegotiations.” A draft speech text released prior to his address includes tougher measures for renegotiation, including “I will achieve renegotiations of the agreement and restriction to opening,” and “I will recover quarantine sovereignty, and ensure that rice, seasonings, vegetables, fruits, specialty produces and livestock items will be exempt from market opening.” Lee Jung-woo, chief of the economic democratization committee for candidate Moon, said, “I opposed to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement signed by the Roh administration due to several harmful provisions, and there is no change to my belief,” thus insisting on his objection to the trade pact.

Talks over the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement were concluded in April 2007, when Moon was serving as the presidential chief of staff for former President Roh. His view perceiving “Roh’s Free Trade Agreement as virtue” and “President Lee Myung-bak’s accord as vice” cannot be persuasive. Through renegotiation, the Lee administration made concession in the automobile sector and delayed market opening of pork and pharmaceutical products. The Korean auto industry supported concession in the auto sector. The Investor-State Dispute rule, which Moon claims to be a clause detrimental to Korea, is included in all other free trade accords Korea has signed thus far. Korea saw a 13.5 percent hike in export of the items that were set to benefit from the trade accord, including auto parts and textiles whose tariffs were cut, from March to June following the effectuation of the agreement.

The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement provides the Korean industry and economy with a chance to strengthen its structure and global competitiveness. If Korea seeks comprehensive renegotiations that unilaterally nullify or change the existing framework of the pact, it will damage trust between the two countries and Korea will end up paying a hefty price. What’s more pitiful is the opposition candidate’s “regressive politics” which backpedals the progress of the country that should continue its strides to prosperity, while throwing cold water to the Korean people’s progressiveness and spirit of challenge, while pretending to benefit the public.