Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States

As a political dogfight looms over the ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said Tuesday that the government will step up efforts to minimize adverse effects of the accord.

“While drawing up measures to prepare for the dark side of the benefits to be gained through the FTA, (we) will make pan-governmental efforts to transform protracted conflicts and confrontation into compromise and engagement,” Kim said, presiding over a weekly Cabinet meeting.

South Korea struck a deal with the U.S. last December on new terms of the bilateral FTA that was initially signed in 2007.

Ratifying the deal is expected to be one of the hottest issues in the extra session of the National Assembly likely to open later this month.

The main opposition Democratic Party claims Seoul made excessive concessions in the new agreement, especially on automobile trade.

Some labor circles and civic groups here also express worries over negative impact.

“The establishment of the FTA is an unavoidable choice under the global economic circumstances, under which market opening is deepening and expanding, but (we) are well aware of views of concerns,” Kim said.

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