[EDITORIALS]Urgent matters at hand today

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[EDITORIALS]Urgent matters at hand today

The proposals that the National Assembly will discuss today are very important. First, it is imperative that the free trade agreement with Chile be ratified. Twice, ratification of the pact has been thwarted by physical interference from opposing legislators, in stark contrast to the Chilean Senate, which has already ratified it.
Korean businesses are paying the price for this delay. With the National Assembly’s failure to ratify the agreement, market shares of Korean cars, electric appliances and mobile phones in Chile have plunged. Certain legislators from farming regions, however, still vow to block the pact. The effects of delaying ratification of the agreement do not stop at the Chilean borders. Should Japan and Mexico sign and ratify a free trade agreement, as is expected, this could put our trade with Latin America back some $100 million to $200 million. Given this situation, all political parties must persuade their lawmakers from the perspective of the national interest, and must restrain those assembly members who resort to physical violence, either by denying them nomination for the general elections this year or by other methods.
Another urgent issue at hand is the motion to dispatch additional troops to Iraq. It has been more than a month since President Roh Moo-hyun and the representatives of the four political parties reached an agreement to send the troops. To delay the motion at this point would be to miss a chance to secure our national interest and raise our international stature. As the parties have all agreed on the motion, we hope it is passed before today is over.
The authority bestowed on the special committee on political reforms by the National Assembly also ends today. The parties should work to reach a compromise before the Speaker of the National Assembly is forced to exercise his authority to present the bill to the Assembly. Having wasted precious time in political infighting and slinging corruption allegations, our lawmakers have finally woken up to reality and are now scurrying to meet the inescapable issues. Such a sight in the National Assembly is hardly reassuring to the public. The politicians should realize that Monday is their last chance to make up for all their mistakes and to at least produce some minimal achievement.
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