Our turn to ratify the FTA

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Our turn to ratify the FTA

The U.S. Senate passed two bills yesterday that will have a far-reaching effect on the future of our economy. One, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, is a retaliatory tariff act aimed at China that would allow sanctions against China if it arbitrarily devalues its currency.

China is vehemently against the protectionist move. But if the punitive act, which was passed by a vote of 63-35 in the Senate, goes into effect, it will have a negative impact on our economy as well.

Whether the act actually goes into effect remains to be seen because it requires House approval as well as President Obama’s signature. But even if the act does not pass the House, the U.S. government’s retrogressive action is not likely to subside any time soon because the temptation for protectionism will be greater if the U.S. economy shows no signs of recovery.

Meanwhile, Korea will be hit hard, given that it is highly dependent on trade for its survival.

To avert this, the National Assembly must ratify the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible if it really wants to get over the protectionist waves roiling the United States.

Surprisingly, the speed of ratification in the United States was even faster than in Korea. While our lawmakers have submitted the trade bill to the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, their counterparts in the United States have already almost done their part. The trade pact will most likely pass both the House and Senate today.

Across the Pacific, however, the same act still has to go through a deliberation process in the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, a vote in the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee and a vote in the plenary session of the Assembly. Moreover, opposition parties are still fervently opposed to the ratification and have demanded its renegotiation or nullification.

Both the government and the ruling party must take responsibility for this mess. They have been neglectful of the process despite the urgent need for active negotiation with the opposition parties. Regrettably, the government has only just asked the National Assembly to cooperate on the matter. The ruling party must also accommodate its counterpart’s demands, as long as they are acceptable. Meanwhile, the opposition camp must shy away from opposition for its own sake. We urge our lawmakers to approach the issue from a macroscopic perspective.
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