The main opposition Democratic Party on Tuesday outlined 10 areas for renegotiation of the free trade agreement with the United States, ratcheting up its opposition to ratification of the pact.
“We demand the government redo the negotiation and restore a balance of interests, which was tilted in favor of the U.S. in last year’s renegotiation,” Rep. Kim Jin-pyo, floor leader of the DP, said.
The party’s demands include that Korea be given a 10-year grace period for the reduction of a 40 percent tariff on U.S. beef and drop the investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which allow foreign investors to take the host government to a neutral court in case of losses caused by government policies or regulations.
It also wants goods South Korean companies made in North Korea’s Gaeseong industrial park to be regarded as South Korean goods and be given duty-free treatment.
The proposal, however, is unlikely to be backed by the Grand National Party, as the ruling camp vows to ratify the pact as it is in August.
Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, chief of Korea’s governing Grand National Party, said Tuesday that politicians would understand the FTA with U.S. should be passed, if they just looked at its economic benefits.
“Some opposition politicians are leading it in a wrong direction, turning it into a battle of political ideologies,” he said.
The ruling camp will do its best to ratify the bill in the parliamentary session next month, he said.
Korea and the U.S. signed in 2007 the agreement to link the world’s largest and 14th-largest economies. The two sides reached a supplementary deal last December, which envisions South Korea softening its automotive safety and environment standards.
U.S. President Barrack Obama is expected to submit a bill to ratify the agreement to Congress soon. He is eager to complete the long-delayed process before Congress enters summer recess on Aug. 6.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)