Video: Experts in Korea put weight into calls for terminating Korea-U.S. FTA
The government's plan to amend the free trade deal with Washington, along with its assessment of the impact of FTA on Korean industries wil be unveiled later this month. Agriculture-related groups call the deal one-sided and demands its termination. Local experts meanwhile, point out this amendment process should be utilized as a chance to right some of the wrongs of the agreement. For our news features tonight, Kim Ji-yeon covers all valid options pertaining to the bilateral trade pact. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is to outline its plan to the National Assembly later this month on some of the contentious issues and the direction it'll take ahead of negotiations for the amendment of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.
Eyes are on the ministry on whether it'll incorporate requests from various industry groups that were voiced out through a series of public hearings and discussions held in recent months. (standup ed: steve) "The second public hearing on the Korea-U.S. FTA went on as planned, with experts and industry officials from various fields assessing the impact and sharing their views on the deal. It's regarded as progress compared to the first public hearing last month, which ended after just 20 minutes due to vehement protests from local agriculture-related groups calling for a termination of the deal." Agriculture-related groups made sure to voice their discontent as they claimed they've been neglected for the past five years, left to wither away. They also pressured the government to fulfill its promise to support the agricultural industry by raising funds and increase distribution routes.
They also called for an exemption of agricultural goods being subjected to price ceilings pursuant to the anti-corruption law on meals and gifts. (Korean ) "Terminate, terminate, terminate Scrap talks on FTA amendments " ( , , , , ) Their calls to terminate the five-year-old trade deal may seem drastic, but many local experts in Korea are increasingly putting weight to their claims. Some go as far as to argue that the bilateral trade deal has been one-sided and is an unfair agreement that only brings merit to the U.S. and little to no benefit to Korea. (Korean) "Korea can't even impose basic protectionist measures such as safeguards on U.S. beef imports due to the FTA deal. It says Korea can only trigger it when there's a minimum 350-thousand tons of U.S. beef imports, an impossibly high standard.
Korea is currently importing 180-thousand tons and it's already dominating the domestic beef market." (Korean) "Some 100-thousand local cattle farms have disappeared during the five years the FTA deal took effect as prices and output continues to plummet. The bilateral deal is increasingly driving the local industry into the brink of collapse." The rationale in maintaining the FTA also loses ground when taking into account its impact to the local auto sector… considered as the main benefactor of the deal. Data by the Korea Customs Office, the country's auto exports to the U.S. tumbled 9-and-a-half percent from the previous year to around 965-thousand units in 2016… even after tariffs were slashed to zero from 2-point-5-percent under the terms of the free trade deal. (Korean ) "The U.S. has more to lose with the termination of the bilateral FTA since it would reinstate the eight-percent tariff rate on car exports to Korea which was slashed in 2012.
.. while Korean automakers would carry on with business as usual with the 2-point-5 tariff rate." Although it was U.S. President Donald Trump who first indicated the need to terminate the current bilateral free trade deal… experts say Korea need not to be crestfallen and dragged into further demands made by the U.S. that would go against Korea's national interests. Rather, this should be a chance for Korea to right the wrongs of the one-sided, unfair portions of the current agreement that go against the original intention of a free trade deal. Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News..