Battle over FTA goes to Assembly tomorrow

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Battle over FTA goes to Assembly tomorrow

The battle over the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is coming to a head, with the ruling Grand National Party saying it wants the agreement ratified through a vote in the National Assembly tomorrow.

Today, the GNP wants the main bill to be voted on at the Foreign, Trade and Unification Affairs Committee. On Tuesday night, the GNP’s Nam Kyung-pil, head of the committee, tabled the bill, but no voting took place as lawmakers of the Democratic and Democratic Labor parties continued to protest its “unfairness” to Korean farmers and small businesses.

There are also 14 bills to revise Korea’s laws to implement the FTA in the agriculture and knowledge economy committees. GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo ordered lawmakers to complete the approval of the bills.

“I want them to be voted on at the main session with the FTA,” Hong said. Whether the opposition will go along, or fight back physically to prevent the bills being passed, isn’t clear.

The GNP has a majority in the 295-member National Assembly. But in Korea, the minority resorts to physical brawls in the assembly when the majority party tries to railroad through bills. The brawls are unpopular with the public, which blames the majority party for not trying hard enough to compromise with the opposition.

“We will reflect the DP’s position as much as possible,” said a senior GNP official. “But the public is in favor of the FTA, so the Democrats will have a hard time resisting.”

The DP, however, said yesterday it won’t allow the GNP to use its power of majority.

“We will never accept any attempt to railroad the FTA,” said DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu yesterday.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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