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S. Korea seeks FTA with US

United Press International, 18 January 2006

S. Korea seeks FTA with U.S.

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (UPI) — South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said Wednesday he would push for a free-trade agreement with the United States as early as possible.

In a New Year address, Roh vowed to use this year to address social and economic polarization, saying it posed a serious obstacle to sustained economic recovery.

"South Korea has been pushing for free trade deals with a number of countries worldwide. We have to seal an FTA with the U.S. for the sake of our own economy," Roh said in the 40-minute speech broadcast live by the nation’s major TV networks.

Earlier this month, South Korea partially eased a ban on imports of U.S. beef, a move to seek FTA with the United States. Washington also called for South Korea to remove the import barrier on films to discuss an FTA.

South Korea has signed FTAs with Chile and Singapore and is negotiating with other countries and blocs.

Roh also pledged to further open the nation’s education and medical service sectors to foreign competition as part of efforts to revitalize the economy.

He said the country’s economy is saddled with some tasks such as economic polarization and a fall in growth potential.

"The Korean economy is plagued by a number of polarization problems, such as worsening income disparity and the widening gap between large and small firms," Roh said, vowing to create as many as 130,000 new jobs this year.

 source: UPI