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GNP urges ratification of U.S. FTA

As the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement awaits the parliamentary panel discussion on Wednesday, the ruling party leader once again urged parties to ratify it by the end of the month.

“The U.S. Congress is expected to pass their bill this week, and in order to move in step, we should also wrap up the issue within the current plenary session,” said Grand National Party Chairman Rep. Hong Joon-pyo in a radio interview on Wednesday.

FTA ratification would serve as a solid economic bond between the two countries and further strengthen their military alliance as well, Hong said.

Ahead of President Lee Myung-bak’s summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, the ruling party and the government agreed Monday to speed up the ratification process.

The trade bill has long been pending in the parliament due to the liberal opposition parties’ resistance, with the main opposition Democratic Party demanding a renegotiation on some clauses and the minority Democratic Labor Party opposing the FTA outright.

“Most of the clauses which the DP tackled were concluded by the previous liberal administration of the late President Roh Moo-hyun,” Hong said. “The Democratic Party should no longer be swayed by anti-American sentiment.”

DP Chairman Rep. Sohn Hak-kyu, however, said earlier that the government must reinforce protective measures for local industries.

“The U.S. Congress and the ruling party may rush the issue for their own sake, but we should take every precaution,” said Sohn in the party’s Supreme Council meeting.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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