Dong-A Ilbo, Korea
U.S. Investors Seek to Secure the Level of Rights Enjoyed in Their Own Country
7 March 2006
Request to Exclude Korean Products Made in Gaesong
The USTR (U.S. Trade Representatives) clearly stated in a negotiation report submitted to the U.S. Congress that American investors should be able to enjoy the same rights in Korea as the ones that they enjoy in the U.S. according to legal principles and practices.
Regarding this, the Office of Trade and Commerce under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “That was just what USTR explained to Congress. It is difficult for that clause to happen.”
However, the clause intends to lift various government regulations imposed on industries such as Korea’s telecommunications market which U.S. investors are interested in, pointed out experts.
Actually, USTR stipulated in an annual report that it plans to ask the Korean government to remove the restriction on how much stake of telecom companies foreigners can own and to include American technology in choosing mobile Internet Wibro technology standards.
Another case which could be controversial is the tightening of the regulations on the origin of the product. While more and more Korean companies are entering North Korea’s Gaesong industrial complex, whether to recognize products made in Gaesong as South Korean products is expected to be sharply controversial.
The U.S. plans to call for the qualifications for participating in small-size government’s bidding in which American firms are limited to take part.
It is also asking Korea to consult with it in advance in revising laws, procedures, and executive orders that could affect Korea’s FTA negotiation.
U.S. Expects to Simplify the Quarantine Procedures of Food, Animals, and Plants-
First of all, USTR mentioned the agricultural sector among others following the general explanation in the negotiation report.
“The American negotiators will work hard to completely correct regulations in all areas in Korea facing American agricultural exporters so that they can have easy access to Korean agricultural market.”
The report contained contents saying that they will strongly request improvements in unreasonable quarantine procedures of food hygiene and animals and plants which unnecessarily waste time and make America’s seasonal farm products rotten.
The report goes on to say that in the intellectual property sector, the negotiators will ask for Korea’s strengthened laws so that the Korean government could confiscate telecommunication equipments such as personal computers used in production and circulation of illegal replicas. It also includes a plan to pursue securing comprehensive access to market in sectors such as finance, communications, and professional occupations.
Pressure on Reducing Car Tax is Likely to be Fierce-
The U.S. made clear in an annual trade report that it will watch closely whether the Korean government carries out its promise to gradually reduce various taxes on cars.
In the report, USTR stressed that revising the tax code on cars is tough even for the Korean government but is a necessary measure for achieving the U.S. goal.
In the medical and pharmaceutical sector, it requested that Korea maintains the medical fees calculating system established on the basis of seven developed countries. According to the report, it is said that the Korean government made a definite promise to keep the medical fees calculating system which is currently changed every three years.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy Han Duck-soo said, “The report intends to introduce in detail only what the U.S. wants in a Korea-U.S. FTA negotiation,” and he instructed officials of his ministry to come up with policy data containing the next step that Korea should take.”