[EDITORIALS]Open season on fair trade

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[EDITORIALS]Open season on fair trade

So-called “progressive” civic groups are trying to make a free trade agreement with the United States a political issue. Politicians are divided even before the negotiations begin, and 270 non-governmental organizations such as Lawyers for a Democratic Society and environment organizations will hold a demonstration against the agreement this weekend. “Korea will be relegated to the 51st state of the United States or its economic colony,” former Agriculture Minister Kim Sung-hoon said of the FTA.
It is a simple fact that Korea’s overseas trade accounts for as much as 85 percent of its GDP. It is common knowledge that free trade stimulates competition inside a country so that the nation can become more competitive. Free trade agreements are mainstream treaties, and not signing one would greatly hinder the competitiveness of our exporters.
It is unbelievable that the expression, “an economic colony,” could be used in the 21st century. How is it possible that the theory of dependency has come back to life in the World's 11th-largest economy, when even the Third World has abandoned that concept? How can a person who describes himself as progressive say such things as, “We can't compete against the U.S.’s capital strength. We should drop the idea from the very beginning”?
At the 2006 CTIA Fair in Las Vegas, experts were thrilled to see Korea’s high-tech products. The New York Times wrote of Korea as a place where science fiction was becoming reality.
Korea has been one of the major beneficiaries of a multilateral trade system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization. We also achieved economic development by means of overseas trade. We can’t lock the door to the outer world and say, “We will do it our way.” Calling the agreement an act of treason, as some progressive groups have done, is just a childish idea intended to stir up blind nationalism. What kind of country do they want?
We hope that Mr. Roh remains firm against this storm in a teacup. He said at the online meeting with the citizens last month that our country needs to open up its doors for the sake of economic growth. The North American Free Trade Agreement and the free trade agreements with Europe and Chile have brought more positive than negative effects.
We should not allow any attemp to misuse this issue as a means for anti-American posturing or a political maneuvering.
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