Neatly wrap up the FTA

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Neatly wrap up the FTA

Trade ministers from South Korea and the United States are now earnestly engaged in negotiations to finally cement an official free trade agreement between the two countries.

Each side is battling over concessions in the fields of automobiles and beef. Earlier, President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to wrap up additional negotiations on the tricky issue before the G-20 Summit on Thursday.

We expect that both sides will be able to reach an agreement to forge an exemplary FTA based on the spirit of mutual benefit rather than selfish interests. That is the only way we can further strengthen the traditional alliance between the countries and get the deal ratified.

The U.S. demand for the further opening of our beef market is a very sensitive issue. As a matter of fact, we hardly have any room left to budge, as it could reignite fervent opposition by farmers and avid opponents of the move in Korea, instantly turning it into a hot political issue.

The U.S also should have the wisdom to compromise on the issue of automobiles, as earlier standards on exhaust and gas mileage underwent a considerable change during the past three years since both countries signed the initial tentative FTA. Therefore, on our part, we need to adjust our stringent position on the U.S. demand that we ease nontariff barriers by reflecting new international standards. The U.S. also should now be able to withdraw its excessive request to broaden the scope of suspension on regulations to “under 1 million cars sold.”

The Korea-U.S. FTA has been drifting for three years mostly due to politics in the U.S. As a result, both countries had to go through additional negotiations over an FTA that had already been signed. It is fortunate that the atmosphere seems to be changing a bit in the U.S. The Washington Post recently pointed out that although there was criticism that the U.S. failed to open Korea’s car and beef markets enough, such complaints were somewhat exaggerated.

The Korea-U.S FTA is a grave issue when it comes to our national survival and the U.S.’s global strategy, surpassing a mere bilateral trade agreement. It is also pivotal to both countries’ efforts to weather a new upheaval in the global economy and international politics, as it could

contribute to peace and development.

We urge both sides to hammer out a mutually prosperous deal as neatly as possible so that they can prevent the collapse of a historic agreement.

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