Negotiators must prepareMembers of South Korea’s negotiation team for a free trade agreement with the European Union had rows among themselves. They argued in public in Brussels, the center of the enemy camp.
In a news briefing the top envoy of the foreign ministry said, “Our level of openness is so low that we are pushed into a corner in negotiations.” The envoy of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy responded, “The level of our opening is not low.” At another news briefing in the evening, the envoy of the foreign ministry refuted the other envoy.
It is a shame that Korean envoys argued in the midst of negotiations on which national interests depend. It is a problem that they entered negotiations without adjusting their opinions to begin with. And it’s unbelievable that they talked about their differences in opinion in public instead of in private. They revealed their concerns and negotiation cards to negotiating partners of the European Union. Their act will aggravate South Koreans who oppose a free trade agreement.
Korea’s negotiation team for a free trade agreement with the United States did not have discord of this kind. It is worrisome that Korea is carried away by the success of a free trade accord with Washington, so the negotiation team’s attitude probably became lax.
Negotiations for a free trade pact with the European Union must not be taken lightly at all. The European Union consists of 27 countries and a population of 500 million. Its gross domestic product is $13.5 trillion, a larger market than the United States.
The average tariff of the European Union is 4.2 percent, which is higher than the 3.7 percent of the United States. So once signed, the free trade agreement is expected to have larger effects economically.
We hope that the negotiation team will not become lax until it finalizes the negotiations successfully. If the members of the negotiation team argue amongst themselves or remain obsessed with their ministries’ interests, it is hard to expect good results. The negotiation team must be well prepared and sign an even better free trade agreement than the one with the United States.