[LETTERS to the editor]Korea needs FTA; work out differencesIt looks like it will be a hard process to finalize a free trade deal between Korea and the United States. On May 24, U.S. labor groups said they will join their Korean counterparts for rallies in Washington against the proposed FTA. We should overcome our differences, however, in order to achieve what both countries want.
Since we live in a global society, liberalization is unavoidable; we need the free trade agreement. South Korea gained economic development through liberalization of its economy, enabled by affiliation with the GATT in 1967. When we joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996, liberalization of the capital market was a precondition. Korea’s economy is highly dependent on trade; imports and exports take up to 85% of the 2005 gross national income (GNI).
The expected economic benefits for Korea through the pact will be up to a $13.5 billion increase in GDP, creation of 100,000 jobs and an enhanced climate for foreign direct investment. Weak sectors, such as agriculture and education, will be strengthened and their competitiveness enhanced, as required in an economy in tune with global standards. While some sectors will be handicapped initially, the whole economy, including the weak parts, will benefit in the long term.
Other than economic benefits, an FTA will cement political and social ties with our ally of 53 years. Korea is an important ― currently the seventh largest ― and attractive trade partner for the United States. The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy estimates that two-way trade will increase by almost $20 billion as a result of the FTA. This significant negotiation should be completed without unnecessary procrastination.
by Hyun-Min Lee