Republic of Korea and The U.S.has signed on Korea Free Trade Agreement following about 10 months of negotiations on Monday April 2nd, 2007. The agreement stated that “A combined U.S.-South Korean economy would rank third in the world, just behind the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement”.
It might bring benefits to both side that the deal could boost bilateral trade by 20 percent from the current $72 billion a year. The other hand it would eventually devastate the livelihoods of farmers and workers.
By looking at overwhelming reactions and high praises from Cho, Joong, Dong and the GNP to President Rho, I start to have questions on the deal. Andy Jackson at the Marmot Hole nicely summarized FTA in Korean Political perspectives.
“Are you Happy Now?” President Rho praised by pro-Americans, Conglomates, Conservative party and Press on FTA Agreements (Ohmynews, Apr. 3, 2007)
The key points of the deal include:
■ About 94 per cent of tariffs on commodities will be scrapped within three years.
■ Autos: Tariffs on passenger cars with an engine capacity of below 3,000CC will be abolished immediately, and within three years for bigger cars. Korea will overhaul and streamline its tax schemes for autos.
■ Textiles: The US will abolish 61 per cent of tariffs on textiles and garments in terms of its import value, and exclude Korea’s major textile export items such as men’s shirts from the yarn-forward rule of origin.
■ North Korea: The two countries agreed to establish a “committee on outward processing zones on the Korean Peninsula” which designates outward processing zones on the peninsula under some conditions.
■ Rice: will be excluded
■ Beef: Tariffs will be gradually phased out over 15 years. US imports are set to resume imminently.
■ Agriculture: Korea will maintain current tariffs on oranges, beans, powdered milk and other imported agricultural products.
■ Services: Korea will not open the education and medical sectors but will gradually move to open accounting, broadcasting services and law.
■ Pharmaceuticals: Korea will not guarantee the minimum price of new US drugs.
■ Investor protection: Criteria for indirect expropriation in investor to state dispute cases will be clarified. Both sides agreed to introduce a temporary safeguard measure which controls sudden and massive capital outflows in case of financial crisis.
■ Disputes: Both sides agree to establish a trade dispute settlement body
Looking down at opposition Grand National Party members who hail the conclusion of free trade talks with the U.S. and chanting his name, President Roh Moo-hyun thinks, “Now might be a good time to push for a grand coalition with the GNP again.” (English Chosun, Apr 3rd, 2007)
Progressives take as
The political newcomer Roh Moo-hyun achieved celebrity status for questioning that held nothing back when it was his turn with former president Chun Doo-hwan, at the time of the “Fifth Republic Hearing” at the National Assembly in the late ’80s. He might end up having to testify at a similar hearing if one is held about the FTA with the United States, and he might have to give the same kind of answer Chun did to many of the questions he would face: “I have no recollection of that matter.” (Hankyoreh Geurimpan, 3 April 2007)
And…now Roh Moo-hyun discovers…
Roh Moo-hyun discovers the New World, having arrived on a ship christened “New Progressivism.” The conservative main opposition Grand National Party, and the conservative media are waiting for him with a welcome sign. A serpent named “neoliberalism” waits for him as well. (Hankyoreh Geurimpan, 5 April 2007)