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AmCham wants coalition of film industries

Korea Times

AmCham Wants Coalition of Film Industries

By Choi Kyong-ae, Staff Reporter

2 February 2006

A reduction in the mandatory screening days for domestic films would pave the way for a coalition between the film industries of South Korea and the United States, said Tami Overby, president of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Korea, Wednesday.

``The reduction in the screen quota will spur the coalition between Korea and Hollywood. That’s mainly because of Korea’s great contents and Hollywood’s advanced distribution technologies,’’ the AmCham president said.

Korea has shown the willingness and ability to make the difficult decision to move towards an open market economy, the president said. Last month, the Seoul government announced that it will cut the obligatory screening days for local films to 73 days from the current 146 days, raising a strong opposition from the local film industry.

As for the Korea-US FTA, she said the AmCham is ``extremely positive’’ about the results of the negotiations given strenuous efforts by the two governments to iron out differences.

``As for the U.S. government, it should go through a three-month deliberation period and get an approval from Congress before the negotiation process can begin. So the three-month period is not negotiable,’’ Tami said.

During the time, she continued to say both governments and industrial sectors would be active in those three months in deciding what the most important factors in the FTA would be.

If the U.S. trade promotion authority expires in June next year, she explained, U.S. negotiators might ask for amendments in the current bilateral agreement not in Korea’s interests and it might take more time to sign it.

When asked if the 11-month period is too short to conclude the pact, Tami said that AmCham expects positive results from it as Seoul and Washington are strong willed to strike the deal.

AmCham made it clear that although agriculture on both sides will be a very large challenge for the talks, both sides are working very hard to develop an agreement that is equally fair.

``I think it is really encouraging that both governments have spent almost a year in preparatory planning for that. There has been a meeting between our two governments where they have gone over, chapter by chapter, each fact of the FTA, and both governments clearly understand what is involved,’’ she said.

The Korea-Chile FTA took about four years to negotiate but it was primarily because it was Korea’s first attempt to do real FTA. Korean negotiators must have learned a lot of valuable insight, so future FTAs for Korea will go faster and will be much more comprehensive, she added.