Rival political parties reached an agreement Friday on the schedule of the parliament’s disputed August provisional session, but the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement bill will not be included in the agenda, party officials said.
Reps. Hwang Woo-yea and Kim Jin-pyo, respectively floor leaders of the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party, agreed to hold three general sessions on Aug. 23, 29 and 31, the officials said.
Kim Jong-hoon (left), Korea’s chief negotiator for the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, and other government officials attend a meeting with leaders of the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party on the ratification of Korea-U.S. FTA, at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, on Friday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Focus is to be placed on economic issues concerning people’s livelihood, such as university tuition fees and the ongoing labor dispute of Hanjin Heavy Industries.
Nevertheless, the parties will hold in-depth discussions on the free trade bill within the framework of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, according to officials.
The outlook for the ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA bill during the August session has subsequently dimed.
The delay resulted from the GNP’s compromise with the DP, which consistently demand renegotiation of the trade pact.
“Another round of renegotiation is crucial in order to fix the imbalance caused by an unfair renegotiation” held last November, said DP chairman Rep. Sohn Hak-kyu.
The DP tackled several clauses in the FTA, including the tariff elimination on imported beef.
Supreme Council member Rep. Park Joo-sun also warned the government not to speed up the processes.
“The government’s obsession for speed resulted in the previous lopsided renegotiation,” he said.
“The key task is to come up with sufficient reparative measures first and then move on to the next stage.”
The ruling party, on the other hand, once again pressed the parliament earlier in the day to pass the disputed bill, largely in response to the U.S. Congress’ decision to have its part of the bill passed next month.
“We are to pick up momentum as to match with the progresses made by our U.S. counterpart,” said Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party in a meeting of senior lawmakers, welcoming the U.S. announcement.
He also expressed regret over a contribution submitted to a U.S. parliamentary paper by DP lawmaker Rep. Chun Jung-bae, who opposed the ratification of the FTA.
“One needs to take extra caution in submitting such contribution as it may gravely affect the diplomacy and trade between the two countries,” said Hwang.
Rep. Nam Kyung-pil, the party’s Supreme Council member and chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, voiced the same and urged the bill to be passed on to the committee and then to the general meeting within the month.
“The U.S. Congress’ decision is a big step and shall act as an opportunity for us to take the issue seriously,” he said.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)