The Korean and US Free Trade Agreement: Still a Work in Progress

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 While the US has finally signed the Korean-US Free Trade Agreement, there is still work to be done on the other side of the Pacific before the agreement takes effect. The attention is now on South Korea as their National Assembly works to ratify the agreement. Resistance from opposition parties poses a challenge to the ratification of the agreement despite support from the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and the majority party (Grand National Party).

The minority party (Democratic Party) is withholding thier approval of the pact. Citing the need for stronger protective measures for impacted businesses so they can maintain their competativeness once the tariffs on imports from the United States are lifted or reduced. The DP listed three specific preconditions that must be satisfied before they will join the GNP and ratify the KORUS FTA:

1. Stronger protections for small and medium sized businesses

2. Increased compensation for agricultural concerns

3. United States recognition of products originating from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea as being made in South Korea
While the Grand National Party is resisting most of the Democratic Party’s demands, compromises are being made. Stake-holders hope to pass the Korean and US Free Trade Agreement so it will be in effect by January 2012.
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