Bahk fears FTA spat will undermine credibility

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Bahk fears FTA spat will undermine credibility

Korea’s finance minister voiced concern yesterday over opposition lawmakers’ push to scrap the free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, warning that such an argument could only hurt the country’s credibility in the international community.

The main opposition Democratic United Party has vowed to scrap the pact unless Washington agrees to hold renegotiations to revise some clauses that it says unfairly favors the U.S. The accord was approved by the two countries’ respective legislatures last year but has yet to take effect.

“The FTA with the U.S. is a policy that has been pushed ahead based on a national determination that our economy achieve sustainable growth. Moving to hastily scrap it could have a negative impact on our credibility,” Bahk Jae-wan said during a meeting with other policymakers.

Bahk added that such an argument is not in line with conventional wisdom and ordinary trade rules, and could only hurt national interests, urging related government ministries and agencies to do their best to implement the deal as quickly as possible.

Korea signed the deal in 2007. It had to wait until last November, however, to get it approved by the legislature due to objections from opposition lawmakers and civic groups.

The government has been accelerating its bid to expand what it calls its “economic territory” by signing FTAs with major economies. A similar deal with the European Union went into effect in July.

Seoul is also seeking to sign trade pacts with its neighbors Japan and China. Yonhap

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