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GNP refers U.S. FTA bill despite opposition

The ruling Grand National Party referred the long-pending Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement ratification bill to the parliamentary panel, despite resistance from opposition parties.

“I hereby submit the free trade bill to the foreign affairs committee,” Rep. Nam Kyung-pil, GNP lawmaker and committee chairman, announced without banging the gavel.

“The U.S. Congress has clearly started its ratification process and we, too, need to move in step with our counterpart.”

Nam once again pledged not to push ahead with ratification without the consent of opposition parties.
Nam Kyung-pil (seated), lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party and chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, is stopped by Kim Dong-cheol of the main opposition Democratic Party from trying to bring up the U.S. Free Trade Agreement ratification bill for discussion and approval during the general session of the panel Friday. (Yonhap News)
Nam Kyung-pil (seated), lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party and chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, is stopped by Kim Dong-cheol of the main opposition Democratic Party from trying to bring up the U.S. Free Trade Agreement ratification bill for discussion and approval during the general session of the panel Friday. (Yonhap News)

However, opposition members including Reps. Choi Jae-sung and Kim Dong-cheol of the main opposition Democratic Party staged a protest in the committee meeting room, vetoing the bill.

Other non-committee members of minority opposition parties also took part, but Nam drove them out, accusing them of obstructing the committee’s official duties.

Since the trade pact was signed in 2007, its ratification has been an issue of sharp inter-party conflict as the ruling party called for early ratification while the opposition camp demanded a renegotiation, claiming that the deal was unfavorable to Korea.

The government submitted the bill to the National Assembly this June, but the bill failed to make it to the foreign affairs committee or the general session.

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