DP vows to block free trade deal

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DP vows to block free trade deal

With the ruling and opposition parties deadlocked over the approval of the free trade agreement with the United States, President Lee Myung-bak yesterday asked the National Assembly for their cooperation in a letter sent to all members.

The letters were delivered after the president’s plans to address the National Assembly today fell through after the Democratic Party protested, the Blue House said.

The Grand National Party has said that it wants the free trade deal to be approved by the full National Assembly today so that the agreement can take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

“To resolve economic difficulties, we have to do what we have to do,” said a senior Blue House official. “The economic hardships are expected to deepen further next year. We sincerely hope that the FTA is ratified as soon as possible so that it can take effect starting next year.”

With the president unable to address lawmakers, the official added that the letters were designed to “convey his heart” to them.

The results of Wednesday’s Seoul mayoral by-election did not appear to deter the GNP’s plan to approve the FTA, but the DP, bolstered by the victory of liberal independent Park Won-soon, dug in their heels.

“We will go ahead with our plan to approve the Korea-U.S. FTA,” Representative Hong Joon-pyo, chairman of the GNP, said yesterday.

GNP Representative Nam Kyung-pil, chair of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee in the National Assembly, said yesterday that the motion to ratify the FTA would likely be moved forward.

“If the opposition wants to [impede] it, then the GNP just has to vote on it,” Nam said.

The GNP has a large enough majority in the National Assembly to approve the agreement alone. The motion to ratify the FTA and 14 other related bills are currently pending at their respective committees.

The Democrats were adamant that they would not cooperate.

“Hong repeatedly said the FTA would be ratified at the main session [today],” Representative Kim Jin-pyo, DP floor leader, said yesterday. “If Hong still insists even after yesterday’s election defeat and if the GNP and the Lee administration ignore the people’s order to stop their high-handed, unilateral governance, they will face a nationwide resistance.”

Representative Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the DP, said that his party would work with opposition parties and civic groups - as it had done in the mayoral race - to block any attempt by the GNP to railroad the FTA through.

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