Keep the FTA rollingSome 2,700 pages of text for the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement were officially opened to the public, about 50 days after Washington and Seoul officials reached the agreement. No major changes have been found, but details of the text showed some new clauses. The two sides agreed to activate import safeguards only once on every type of product. The Korean government is saying the clause will benefit Korea, as Korea mainly exports manufactured products to the United States, but there are many people who are unconvinced. Debates also will keep raging over whether to consider products made in Kaesong Industrial Complex Korean-made, and the range of cross-border investor lawsuits. Also, violation of intellectual property will be punished far more harshly than had been predicted.
Now that the full text of the trade pact is released, critics of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement seem to be having a field day. They are objecting to some clauses they say are disadvantageous to Korea, claiming “Seoul officials made a hasty pact,” and that they intentionally concealed some clauses. But our view is that the government officials did not make a hasty pact nor did they conceal clauses that are disadvantageous to us. The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement covers such a wide range of issues that only core issues have been known to the public, while small details are just now being released.
There are bound to be advantages and disadvantages if one takes a close look at the pact. Saying the government intentionally concealed details of the pact that was soon to be made public anyway is too much of a conspiracy theory.
We should not interpret the text of the trade pact based on skewed views.
As we have repeatedly stressed, the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement was a choice for our country to become an advanced nation. There is nothing to be gained by dragging down the agreement.
A bumpy road lies ahead for the Korea-U.S free trade agreement until it earns congressional approval and takes effect. Having a unified stance on the issue is more than essential at a time like this, when there is growing demand in the United States for a possible renegotiation of the deal.
The government should make the process as transparent as possible to quell all these rumors and debates.
That will be the only way to stop unnecessary and exhausting controversy. We expect the government to accept criticism on new problems and prepare measures to fix them.