The U.S. FTA is to our benefitIn order for the revised free trade agreement between Korea and the United States to take effect, ratification by legislatures of both nations is imperative. But the revised deal has so far failed to motivate lawmakers in the two countries.
In Korea, the main opposition Democratic Party plans to go on a tour around the nation to rally against the newly inked trade pact. The party chairman, Sohn Hak-kyu, has been making full-throated criticism of the deal, demanding renegotiation because, according to him, the government has “handed out all economic benefits” to the U.S. side. In the Unites States, meanwhile, Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, said he was “deeply disappointed” and was opposed to the deal unless Washington gained greater access to the Korean market for U.S. beef.
The new deal is facing another legislative bottleneck like the one that blocked the initial agreement signed in 2007. Lawmakers can, of course, oppose or support legislation according to their political and economic interests. The opposition serves to provide a dissenting voice from the ruling party.
But even the opposition must be in sync with the ruling party if national interests are at stake. Would another revision really help our country? The Democratic Party argues that the 2007 deal is better balanced and that the new details hamstring our trade. But we need to set the record straight. The Democratic Party, as the ruling party that originally pushed for the free trade agreement with the U.S., had argued that a trade pact with the world’s largest economy would boost gross domestic product growth by 6 trillion won ($5.2 billion) a year.
If the new deal does not hurt our exporters that much, it does not make sense for the Democratic Party to oppose the trade deal. In our view, the trade deal with the U.S. will definitely do more good than harm for our economy. Most other economies envy the deal and expect it to help the Korean economy. The London-based Economist pointed out that Koreans “worry too much” and groan, and the trade pact is held in awe by Japan whose car industry competes fiercely with Korean brands.
With an agreement with the European Union, Korea can now enjoy unprecedented access to the world’s two largest markets. The opposition camp should cease its knee-jerk reaction and endorse the deal. The politicians should seek and present measures to capitalize on the trade pact if they are so worried about the national interest.