Don t politicize public healthKorea and the United States reportedly agreed in writing to stipulate that Korea can exert quarantine rights to end beef imports from the United States if there is an outbreak of mad cow disease.
They want to make it clear that the Korean government has the right to stop U.S. beef imports under the 20th clause of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
They want to verify what the Korean government already declared and what the U.S. government verbally agreed to again in a document.
To ease continuing worries over U.S. beef in the Korean public, Korea and the U.S. struck a rare diplomatic compromise.
The government also is reportedly in a discussion with the U.S. government to add the vertebral column of cattle 30 months old or older to the list of specified risk material and thus ban its import.
The part is not distributed in the U.S. and there is little chance of the part entering Korea, but the government wants to prevent unnecessary misunderstanding.
We believe the recent controversies over U.S. beef imports are quite exaggerated, but the government is being responsible for relieving public anxiety, which resulted from the unsatisfactory negotiation.
The government should use this chance of documenting rights and banning a certain part to dissolve anxiety and misunderstanding.
With this agreement, most of the issues raised by the opposition parties for renegotiation of beef imports are already resolved, without the need for additional negotiation.
Thus, the opposition parties, including the United Democratic Party, should stop the political maneuvering of using the renegotiation issue as an excuse to drive national politics into a wall.
Since the demands from opposition groups were almost fulfilled, there is no longer any reason to stick to their earlier demands to renegotiate the agreement.
The opposition parties should end the beef controversy and make a genuine approach to ratification of the free trade agreement with the U.S.
If the opposition parties waste the last chance of the current legislature to ratify the FTA because of the beef controversy, they will not be able to escape from the blame that they used public health for political maneuvering.