[EDITORIALS]Don’t delay free trade pactThe Korea-Chile Free Trade Agreement is finally being brought before the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the Assembly. But many lawmakers, who are afraid of losing farmers’ votes in next year’s legislative elections, do not want to pass the agreement during the current session. For the greater national interest, however, the agreement must be ratified within this session.
The Assemblymen must rationally determine what the livelihood of Korean people depends upon. Only when we sell more manufactured goods at better prices, our economy will be sustained and develop further. A free trade agreement defines the conditions for lowering trade barriers between the signatories. If lawmakers turn their heads away from this simple fact, they will be criticized as politicos who seek only their own interests.
They must understand that, despite severe recession, the Korean economy grew more than 3 percent because of exports. Around the world, the barriers against Korean products are raised a little higher each day. Chile is a potential market for Korean products, and because it has free trade agreements with the United States, Central and South American countries and EU members, it will be useful as a gateway to similar agreements with these countries. Considering that multilateral trade negotiations of the World Trade Organization have failed, Korea has to overcome trade barriers by creating as many trade agreements as it can.
To restore international credibility, the bill must be passed as soon as possible. As the Assembly delays the bill, which took four years to craft, the Upper House of Chile also postpones passage. The longer the bill is delayed, the credibility of our free trade proposals with Mexico, Singapore and Japan, not to mention Chile, will fall apart.
To overcome local opposition, the government has offered compensation for domestic industries hurt by the free trade agreement. If these measures are not enough, they can be supplemented. The trade pact with Chile is the first such agreement Korea has signed, and it is our manifesto for an open-door policy. It shouldn’t be postponed any longer.