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Seoul inches closer to KORUS FTA endorsement

Korea Times | 10-24-2011

Seoul inches closer to KORUS FTA endorsement

By Park Si-soo

Seoul has inched closer to endorsing the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS FTA), with the ruling camp pushing to make it a done deal by the end of the month despite resistance from the opposition parties.

The bilateral trade pact was given final approval at the U.S. Congress two weeks ago, leaving Korean parliamentary approval the sole obstacle on the way toward the effectuation of the bilateral trade deal starting January.

Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP), said Monday representatives from the GNP, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and the government had reached an agreement on 10 out of 13 disputed issues during a meeting.

“The discussion was conducted extensively and participants reached a grand consensus on 10 controversial issues,” Hwang said.

The agreement is seen as a notable progress from long-running political deadlock between the ruling and opposition camps. The DP has insisted on renegotiations with the U.S., citing better protection of domestic industries vulnerable to the KORUS FTA, including agriculture.

Meanwhile, the DP rejected a proposal to invite President Lee Myung-bak to address the Assembly about the long-pending deal.

Parliamentary Speaker Park Hee-tae made the proposal during a meeting with the floor leaders of the rival parties, but the DP rebuffed the idea out of concern such an address would increase pressure on the party to approve the trade deal.

The DP “effectively refused the proposal out of concern that the president’s address could create an atmosphere that pressures the opposition parties to pass the FTA and it could be used for political purposes” ahead of Wednesday’s local by-elections, GNP floor spokesman Hwang Young-chul said in a briefing.

 source: Korea Times