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As confrontation looms, GNP calls for ISD clarification from DP

Hankyoreh, Korea

As confrontation looms, GNP calls for ISD clarification from DP

Push for final ISD compromise at National Assembly as both parties prepare for railroad

By Hwang Joon-bum 

22 November 2011


The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) placed pressure on the Democratic Party on Monday to state how it would respond if a written agreement for investor-state dispute (ISD) provision renegotiations for the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) were received from the South Korean and U.S. trade officials. In addition to making quiet moves to propose that the government accept the DP’s demands for a written agreement from the countries’ ministers, GNP floor leader Hwang Woo-yea and others are now demanding that the DP clarify its position.

Nam Kyung-pil, GNP lawmaker and National Assemble Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee chairman, said at a GNP Supreme Council meeting Monday that “there needs to be an action-for-action pledge from the Democratic Party stating what they will do if the two countries’ governments accept the demand” for a minister-level written agreement.

“It is extremely impolite, and illogical in any case, to make demands from the government without such a pledge,” Nam said.

GNP Lawmaker Hong Jung-wook, who favors negotiations, said, “The government can only examine matters once the Democratic Party first makes the determination that this is its final demand and that it will not use physical force to try to block passage of the ratification if it is accepted.”

The determination from the GNP negotiation proponents and leadership is that the DP’s militance will diminish greatly and the passage of the ratification will gain justification and popular support if the government accepts the DP’s demand for a ministerial-level written agreement.

But the DP is maintaining that it needs to see the content of the agreements received by the government before deciding on a position.

DP spokesman Hong Young-pyo said, “If the government brings us an agreement stating that the ISD issue is being renegotiated, we will have to decide on a party policy at a general lawmakers’ meeting after looking at the content.”

Kim Dong-cheol, who is among the DP’s negotiation proponents, said, “Receiving the written agreement is not the important thing. It needs to include expressions like ‘abolish’ or ‘suspend.’”

“A majority of DP lawmakers may be willing to accept it if it at least contains an expression like ‘major revisions,’” Kim added.

“If it is not accepted, there is an agreement even among the moderates that the only solution is to block it physically,” Kim said.