중앙데일리

Korea not to budge on FTA concessions with U.S.

미 하원의원들, 한·미FTA 비준 위한 워킹그룹 결성

July 01,2010
Kim Jong-hoon, the trade minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said yesterday that there would be no renegotiations or changes made to the original Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement.

The remarks came after U.S. President Barack Obama promised Korean President Lee Myung-bak during the G-20 Summit in Toronto that he would push the U.S. Congress to approve the FTA, which was signed three years ago yesterday.

But congressional approval is seen as unlikely unless Korea makes more concessions on improving the access of U.S. beef and cars into the Korean market as demanded by American lawmakers.

Kim’s remarks underscored that Korea was in no mood for further compromises. “Taking just one period - one comma - out of the agreement will mean a complete revision. This will not happen,” he told reporters at a press briefing.

“Sales of American beef are doing much better than before, and I know that the U.S. Congress has had opinions on opening up the market for beef that is more than 30 months old. I am not sure whether the Obama administration will bring that up with us. The U.S. government must consider the fact that raising this issue may end up causing the Korean public to lose faith,” Kim explained.

“As for automobiles, I’ve heard many allegations by the U.S. Congress claiming there are hidden import barriers protecting the local industry. However, I have not been able to confirm these allegations, and if they are meant [by the U.S. Congress] to justify the low sales [of American cars] in Korea, it is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.

President Obama has asked the U.S. Trade Representative to resume talks with Korea on these issues ahead of submitting the FTA to Congress for ratification. The two countries are hoping to finalize a solution before the next G-20 Summit takes places in Seoul in November.

“I told the USTR that when we meet in November, hopefully it will be a decisive moment for both of us,” said Kim.

On the recent rumors of a “big deal” in which Korea will open the market fully to U.S. beef imports in return for agreeing to postpone the transfer of wartime command of military forces in Korea, Kim said such speculation was “totally absurd. It was not about giving up something in return.”

Kim said that the forthcoming discussions with the U.S. will be limited to a core group of negotiators. “Even though the two governments want the talks to be completed before the G-20 meeting in November, I won’t be tied to the date and everything will depend on the detailed contents of the agreement.”

Kim noted that President Obama had spoken of “adjustments” to the FTA rather than a “renegotiation” of the trade pact in his talks with President Lee. Kim said he hoped the recent momentum in the FTA’s progress will continue in order to achieve a satisfactory result that would benefit both sides.

Six U.S. congressmen are expected to form a bipartisan working group to urge the quick ratification of the FTA. The group is meant to promote dialogue on the issue by discussing the trade deal’s benefits to the U.S. economy in an effort to win support for the pact.


By Jung Seung-hyun, Jung Ha-won [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장