Inspiration from IndiaThe National Assembly last week ratified a free trade pact with India to pave the way for mutual inroads to Asia’s third and fourth largest economies through tariff benefits. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which does not require legislative approval in India, will take effect from the beginning of 2010.
If the Korean National Assembly had failed to meet the ratification deadline, the deal would have been shelved for a year.
The ruling and opposition parties forged a cease-fire amid the ongoing fray over a number of issues to place national interests ahead of political ones to help local companies advance into one of the world’s fastest growing markets.
Korea is the first among major exporters to strike a free trade pact with India.
The Assembly has a bigger task ahead approving similar pacts with the United States and the European Union. Korea is expected to sign off the pact with the European Union without too much fuss due to the relatively mild levels of protest from related local industries.
But the Korea-U.S. FTA, concluded two years ago, still shows remote signs of ever getting approval from either country.
The mood in Washington has improved lately with 88 members of the House of Representatives sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging the expedition of the FTA process.
Lawrence Summers, head of the White House National Economic Council, told a recent Korea-U.S. business meeting that the administration is preparing for the approval of the bilateral trade pact.
Our assemblymen, however, have not even attempted to put the FTA bill on the Assembly agenda even after passing it in a prerequisite committee meeting in April. We hope our politicians can extend their professionalism and prioritization displayed in the approval of the trade deal with India and hammer out a landmark pact with the United States as well. Their work spirit may well inspire their American counterparts to do the same.