Beef up FTAThe National Assembly’s Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee will hold a two-day hearing on the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States today.
This is an opportunity to examine the negotiation process of the FTA deal and discuss measures for opening domestic markets prior to ratifying the agreement.
However, opposition parties want to link FTA ratification with the resumption of U.S. beef imports. So the hearing is expected to travel through rough waters from the outset.
The United Democratic Party, which holds the majority in the current Assembly, plans to use the FTA hearing to launch an offensive against the government as it did during the hearing on the accord to resume U.S. beef imports. Any discussion on the FTA is likely to hit snags.
Delaying the ratification of the FTA between Korea and the United States because of the beef issue is illogical and not at all in line with national interests.
Most of all, resuming imports of U.S. beef is an issue of quarantine inspection. It is not directly related to the Korea-U.S. FTA.
We think that it is too far-fetched to renegotiate imports of U.S. beef, which is what opposition parties have proposed.
Moreover, we warn that tying the beef issue to the FTA is a mistake. Such a move promotes small gains at the expense of bigger ones.
Korea needs the FTA to be ratified more than the United States. The National Assembly needs to ratify it first, so the Korean government can pressure the U.S. Congress to follow suit.
Despite this, opposition parties in Korea mistakenly believe that Korea is trying to ratify the agreement at the request of the United States.
As the opposition parties said, resumption of imports of American beef is a prerequisite for the Korea-U.S. FTA on the part of the U.S., but for Korea, the FTA is an issue of national interest.
Our future depends on the ratification of the FTA regardless of whether U.S. beef finds its way onto supermarket shelves here.
We reiterate that the ratification of FTA is the current legislature’s last responsibility.
Sohn Hak-kyu, the UDP leader, said he would cooperate with the ratification of the FTA regardless of party interests.
The UDP led the signing of the FTA for national interests and the party should participate in ratifying the agreement irrespective of the beef issue.