Reps delay processing of Korus FTA in compromise

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Reps delay processing of Korus FTA in compromise

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Nam Kyung-pil, right, chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, shakes with Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon, left, yesterday after ruling and opposition party lawmakers on the committee agreed to delay processing of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement ratification bill. By Kim Hyung-soo


The ruling and opposition parties agreed yesterday to delay introducing the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement ratification bill until ratification of the pact in the U.S. becomes more certain, avoiding - or at least delaying - an expected parliamentary scuffle and raising hopes for more bipartisan compromise on the pact.

The ruling Grand National Party initially planned to submit the bill to the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee on Wednesday, the first step for parliamentary approval of the deal. It delayed the move to yesterday amid strong opposition from the opposition Democratic Party.

Then, the parties agreed to a longer delay.

“There was general agreement that the bill would be submitted when it becomes clear that the U.S. would submit its bill to Congress,” said Yoo Ki-june, a GNP lawmaker.

Kim Dong-cheol, who represents DP members on the committee, said the DP approves of the timing but still has problems with the bill.

The GNP had hoped to start the parliamentary approval process on the bill to meet its target of ratifying it by October but opposition parties accused it of trying to railroad an unbalanced agreement that would harm many Korean industries.

They hinted at using physical force to block the GNP’s submission of the bill to the standing committee, raising the possibility of the kind of physical brawl for which the National Assembly is infamous.

All parties are trying to avoid brawls because the public has become disgusted with them.

Committee chair Nam Kyung-pil, a GNP lawmaker, said yesterday he will make a judgment on when the U.S. bill is close enough to ratification after consulting with representatives of all parties on the committee.

Nam said he expects that the bill can go to the committee around Sept. 20. He is scheduled to visit the U.S. after the Chuseok holiday with representatives of the ruling and opposition parties.

The trade pact, signed in June 2007 and supplemented in December last year, has yet to be introduced in the U.S. Congress.

Early last month, U.S. Senate leaders agreed to vote on three pending trade deals, including the Korus FTA, after their one-month recess, which lasts through early September.

According to diplomatic sources, the U.S. Congress is planning to pass the deals in October, not this month.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]

외통위, 한미FTA 비준안 상정 또 연기
여야, 미 의회 처리시점에 맞춰 상정키로


국회 외교통상통일위원회는 1일 전체회의를 열어 한미FTA(자유무역협정) 비준안을 상정할 예정이었으나 여야간 협의끝에 상정을 또다시 연기키로 했다.

외통위는 전날 한 차례 상정을 연기한 데 이어 한나라당과 민주당이 이날 미국 의회의 비준안 처리 시점에 맞춰 상정한다는데 의견 접근을 이루면서 상정을 다시 한번 연기했다.

한나라당 간사인 유기준 의원은 회의에서 "미국이 상정하면 우리도 상정하고, 미 의회에서 상정이 객관적으로 이뤄지면 우리도 상정을 생각한다는 점에 우리가 전반적으로 합의했다"고 말했다.

민주당 간사인 김동철 의원도 "미국의 처리 시점에 맞춰 비준안을 상정하겠다는 것에 반대하지 않겠다"고 말했다.

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