Have patience for the FTAPresident Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama adopted a joint statement saying that they will make a concerted effort to promote development of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, in addition to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, during their summit this week in Washington, D.C.
Contrary to our previous expectations that the summit would bring tangible progress on the agreement, it is truly regrettable that the meeting concluded with little more than a declaration.
President Obama noted Korea’s issues with beef imports and the United States’ issues with automobiles, but said he wants an agreement both sides feel good about. He stated his desire to “clear some of these barriers that are preventing free trade from occurring” between the two countries.
He said that once the major issues are resolved, “the issue of political timing” would be a factor for when the agreement is presented to the U.S. Congress, and expressed reservations about “putting the cart before the horse.”
As he is conducting a large-scale structural reorganization of the American automobile industry, he cannot avoid shouldering the political burden of submitting the proposal for ratification.
It seems he is weighing the persuasion of Congress and the timing for the agreement’s submission with care.
But given Obama’s lukewarm attitude, it is understandable that people may be pessimistic about whether the trade pact can be ratified successfully within the year.
Still, it is not wise for us to either jump to conclusions or lose hope.
What is important is to have patience for the realization of the FTA, no matter how long it takes.
Although President Obama has raised some questions about the timing of when the proposal should be submitted and the order in which the work should be done, he has continued to express his firm belief in the agreement.
The Obama administration wants to push ahead with the trade agreement, but is unable to submit the proposal due to resistance from the U.S. Congress.
The administration is not in a position to increase the pressure on Congress, meaning that it is unable to present the agreement for ratification at this time.
We need to give the administration time to resolve things on the domestic front by creating an atmosphere of acceptance both politically and economically.
The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is an integral part of Korea’s future success, even if we must wait for its ratification.