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Korea to Have Strong Say at FTA Talks With US: MOFE

Korea Times

Korea to Have Strong Say at FTA Talks With US: MOFE

By Kim Sung-jin, Staff Reporter

9 February 2006

Vice Finance and Economy Minister Kwon Tae-shin Thursday said Korea shouldn’t be shy at the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation table with the United States.

``There is not a single reason why Korea should be shy at the FTA negotiation with the U.S.’’ Kwon said during a radio talk show.

Kwon claimed that Korea’s timidity exhibited in past economic negotiations with the U.S. but it was when Korea was still a weak and small economy.

``Think of how Korean automobiles, steel and mobile handsets fare well in the global market,’’ Kwon said.

``There are chances that Korean can beat the U.S. in those fields, thus Korea should keep its voices up and have its say at the negotiation table and drive bargains for things that should be bargained over,’’ he said.

Kwon said, in light of an official letter sent by the U.S. Congress, it is wrong to have a mindset that the U.S. will be the winner and Korea the loser in a bilateral FTA.

He said that in the letter, the U.S. Congress Korea to leave out the U.S. automobile market in the Korea-U.S. FTA deal as an influx of Korean cars would lead to the decimation of the U.S. automobile industry.

Regarding the strengthening of the won, Kwon said the appreciation of the Korean currency can be interpreted as a bright prospect for the Korean economy in view of the past, when all people and economies tried to amass the greenback based on the belief that the U.S. economy will continue to prosper.

He said it is difficult to predict the future movement of the foreign exchange market but the government could activate its ``smooth operation’’ when the Won appreciates at an extraordinary pace.