A time for skill, strategyKorea and the United States will have additional negotiations on a free trade agreement. Washington requested a change in part of the free trade agreement in accordance with its new trade policies.
Seven sectors, including labor, the environment and pharmaceuticals, are on the agenda.
It is regrettable that the United States wants to change an agreement which has already been reached.
Only about 10 days are left before the U.S. Congress votes on ratification, so the renegotiation is against the customs of international negotiations. The U.S. government says it had to request additional negotiation to receive ratification from Congress, which the opposition Democratic Party controls, so it is hard to ignore the domestic situation in the United States.
It is good that key issues such as cars and the Kaesong Industrial Complex are not included.
The Korean government believes that the demand by the United States is within the new trade policies, so the demand will not have a strong influence. But still, the demand by the United States does pose a burden on Korea. For instance, the United States demanded that on labor and environmental issues, a special procedure to settle a dispute which had been agreed on before will be changed to a regular procedure.
Under this change, it is possible that the United States will impose trade retaliation for what it has lost from trade.
If we refuse additional negotiations, it will probably become hard for the trade agreement to be approved by the U.S. Congress.
If we determine that additional negotiations must be done, we must approach them with confidence and not be dragged along by U.S. demands.
Korean negotiators must preserve a balance of interests. Korea’s negotiation team must decide what we can concede and what we must not, and study what we can get in return when we concede something.
We can get U.S. concessions in other areas, such as intellectual property rights or issuance of work visas that allow Korean professionals to work in the United States.
Negotiations must be carried on transparently to persuade people and calm conspiratorial and exhaustive debates. We must not let the additional negotiations damage the basic foundation of the free trade agreement with Washington, or ruin the whole agreement. Skillful negotiation and tactful strategies are needed more than ever.