Sohn needs to shineThe time is ripe for ratifying the free trade agreement between the United States and Korea.
In order to finalize the deal, the U.S. Congress has urged Korea to resume U.S. beef import as a prerequisite for sealing the deal.
In addition, President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to the United States is likely to play a positive role in the ratification of the FTA deal because the main purpose of Lee’s visit is restoring close ties between the two countries.
“The FTA deal between Korea and the United States must be passed in order to mend Korea’s relationship with the United States,” Lee has said.
Lee’s remarks are expected to have a positive impact on the U.S. Congress.
There is another favorable factor. Korea’s general elections ended last week and politicians from rural communities are free to speak out in favor of the FTA; the nation’s farming communities have been critical of the proposed agreement.
With all these positive signs, politicians should wrap up the FTA deal as soon as possible during this extra session of the National Assembly.
Even though positive signs exist, the United Democratic Party — the leading opposition to the deal — still stands against a decision to pass the FTA deal in the April session.
The party says the central government should take more time to review the potential danger of opening the beef market and should wait until Korea gets the upper hand in the negotiations.
Some politicians — UDP Co-chairman Park Sang-cheon, UDP floor leader Kim Hyo-seuk and the chairman of the UDP’s policy committee, Choi In-kee — support those who are hesitant about the deal. All of them hail from rural areas. From August onward, the United States of will be focused on the presidential election, and the entire nation will be swept by election fever.
If the U.S. Democratic Party, which is skeptical about FTA deals, takes power, the ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA could get bogged down.
For this reason, it is dangerous for the UDP to postpone the FTA decision.
At this point, UDP head Sohn Hak-kyu should exert his leadership. Ever since he became leader of the UDP, he has focused on practical advances, saying he will work on ratification of FTA deals.
The time has come for Sohn to contribute to his party as well as to the entire nation.