Shameful opposition to the FTA

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Shameful opposition to the FTA

After much meandering, the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is heading toward its final ratification. On Jan. 25, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to hold a hearing on the agreement. Both governments have so far tried to overcome their conflicts of interest to meet the demands of the industries involved.

At this critical moment, however, opposition Democratic Party lawmakers Chun Jung-bae and Lee Jong-kul and Democratic Labor Party lawmaker Kang Ki-kap are in the United States to stop the ratification of the FTA, together with representatives of the liberal Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. They plan to meet with nongovernmental civic groups opposed to the FTA and will also visit House representatives to urge the congressmen to join them in their opposition to the trade pact.

Such action is inappropriate in terms of both substance and style. Although they argue that the FTA will worsen the daily lives of most of the people in their respective countries, most U.S. citizens welcome the bilateral agreement. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that he is satisfied with it. Even the United Auto Workers, which had once strongly opposed the FTA, welcomed the results of additional negotiations on the pact. In Korea, too, a majority of people believe that the FTA will increase bilateral trade as well as boost ties with the United States.

The way they express their opposition to the FTA is problematic, too. When the FTA was first signed three and a half years ago, not a few in the U.S. Congress and the UAW opposed the deal because they thought that it was disadvantageous to the U.S. Yet none of them came to Korea to incite opposition here. They were engaged in hot debates over the FTA in their own country.

In Seoul, lawmaker Chun claimed that the FTA will bring about an imbalance in bilateral trade relations, meaning that the FTA benefits the U.S. In that context, his attempt to urge people in the U.S. to oppose the pact doesn’t make sense.

Chun, who is leading the tour to the U.S., has been criticized for radical remarks that he made at an outdoor rally where he said, “We should kill the Lee Myung-bak administration.” The liberal PSPD was the group that sent the UN Security Council a letter raising questions about the results of the government investigation into the sinking of the Naval warship Cheonan last year. That just makes us wonder to which country they think they belong.

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