Guess who didn’t come to lunch with Lee
Opposition lawmakers yesterday boycotted a Blue House luncheon designed to urge the legislature’s approval of the Korea-U.S. FTA, while President Lee Myung-bak dined with the ruling party lawmakers and his aides and discussed the issue.
Lee invited lawmakers on the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee and senior government officials, but representatives of the Democratic Party and Liberty Forward Party were a no-show.
The committee has 28 members and 18 of them, including its head, Nam Kyung-pil, are Grand Nationals. Sixteen GNP lawmakers attended the luncheon. Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon, Blue House chief of staff Yim Tae-hee and Lee’s political, foreign, economic and public affairs senior secretaries accompanied the president at the luncheon.
According to DP spokesman Lee Yong-sup, DP lawmakers decided to turn down Lee’s invitation because they thought the meeting was unnecessary since the president will meet with their leader, Sohn Hak-kyu, on Monday. The passage of the Korea-U.S. FTA was one of the main agendas to be discussed at the summit.
The DP said its lawmakers will also turn down Lee’s other invitation for a luncheon with members of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee, scheduled for today. The meeting is intended to push defense reform measures.
“Won’t the defense reform be discussed at the summit, taking into account the Korean Peninsula affairs?” DP spokesman Lee said. “I appreciate your support to ratify the Korea Free Trade Agreement with the European Union [in May],” Lee was quoted as saying by Kim Du-woo, senior public affairs secretary. “I ask for your efforts once again to ratify the Korea-U.S. FTA.”
The Korea-EU FTA was ratified by the National Assembly, predominantly by the GNP, on May 4, while opposing DP representatives boycotted the voting session.
According to Kim, Representative Nam, who heads the Foreign and Trade Affairs Committee, said he will try to arrange negotiations between the ruling and opposition lawmakers to bring about passage of the Korea-U.S. FTA.
The Lee administration recently intensified its efforts to stress that Korea’s legislature should approve the long-pending Korea-U.S. FTA before August.
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, currently visiting the United States, will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday, and passage of the bilateral free trade deal in the two countries’ legislatures is expected to be discussed.
After signing the FTA in 2007, Seoul and Washington concluded additional negotiations in December to meet U.S. concerns over auto trade, the biggest hurdle to approval. Calling the pact the United States’ most commercially significant trade agreement in more than 16 years, the Obama administration has stepped up its pressure on Congress to ratify the deal.
The political timetable of the two countries’ legislatures indicates that passage in August is crucial. The September session of the National Assembly will be devoted to budget reviews, and lawmakers are unlikely to make an attempt to ratify the agreement during that sensitive session. The opposition Democratic Party has complained that the revised FTA is unfavorable to Korean businesses and have demanded another round of negotiation.
U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk reiterated earlier this week the Obama administration’s commitment to send the agreement to Congress “fairly soon,” but the White House said it requires time to resolve one last step before sending the FTA to Congress.
The U.S. still needs to secure the legislature’s support of trade adjustment assistance intended to provide assistance to workers who have lost jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production outside the U.S. the White House said Monday.
By Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]
한글 관련 기사 [머니투데이]
MB, 외통위원들에 "한미FTA 비준 노력해달라"
청와대서 오찬 함께 하며 당부..민주당 등 야당 의원들은 불참
이명박 대통령이 22일 국회 외교통상통일위원회 위원들에게 "한미 자유무역협정(FTA) 비준을 위해서도 노력해 달라"고 당부했다.
이 대통령은 이날 청와대로 위원들을 초청해 오찬을 갖고 "지난번 한-EU FTA 비준동의안을 처리해 줘서 고마웠다"며 이같이 말했다고 김두우 청와대 홍보수석이 전했다.
남경필 외통위 위원장은 이에 대해 "아시아 국가 중에 거대 경제권인 EU와 미국과 동시에 FTA를 체결한 나라는 한국밖에 없어 우리를 FTA허브라고 생각해 모든 나라가 우리와 FTA를 맺기를 희망한다"며 "한ㆍ미 FTA가 한-EU FTA처럼 여야 간 협상을 통해 처리되도록 최선을 다 하겠다"고 말했다.
이날 오찬과 환담은 1시간30분 가량 이어졌다. 이 대통령과 위원들은 한 미 FTA 조기 비준의 필요성, 외교부 우수 인력 신흥시장 지역 배치 등에 대해 주로 이야기를 나눴다.
오찬에는 남 위원장을 비롯, 유기준 간사, 정몽준 김형오 박종근 이윤성 최병국 김충환 주호영 황진하 구상찬 김영우 김호연 윤상현 정옥임 홍정욱 의원 등이 참석했다. 청와대에서는 임태희 대통령실장, 김효재 정무수석, 천영우 외교안보수석, 김대기 경제수석, 김두우 홍보수석, 김종훈 통상교섭본부장 등이 함께 했다. 민주당 등 야당 소속 위원들은 이날 오찬에 불참했다.