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Trade minister urges quick approval of KORUS FTA
제목 없음 South Korea's top trade official said Thursday that he hopes to see a lot of progress in moves toward the ratification of the long-pending free trade pact with the U.S. during next month's parliamentary session amid skepticism that the U.S. Congress may fail to pass the pact before its August recess.

   Recently, optimism has run high that Congress may approve the free trade pact next month. But due to drawn-out debt ceiling talks and a worker-aid program there, doubt arose about the possibility of the U.S. government securing ratification of the trade pact this summer.
The trade agreement, signed in 2007 and supplemented last December, has been awaiting approval from the legislatures of the two countries.

   "The two countries share views that it is desirable for the trade pact to take effect on Jan. 1," South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. "Progress (on the ratification) had been made in the U.S., but things changed."

   The South Korean government and the ruling Grand National Party have been seeking to pass the long-pending accord through the National Assembly during an extra session in August as the U.S. has been moving to get Congress to approve the pact by early next month.

   Kim said work on the free trade pact in the U.S. could stretch beyond the summer recess. "On our side, I hope to see much progress in handling the accord during next month's parliamentary session. In that case, the deal could take effect early next year," he said.

   The prospects of the deal's ratification in the U.S. before Congress goes into summer recess early next month appear to have dimmed significantly. White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said Tuesday the administration will soon send the pact to Congress for a vote, but it was unclear whether it can be approved before the Aug. 6 recess.

   On Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk also said that the administration hopes to "very quickly announce a process on how we will be able to move that forward."

   In South Korea, opposition parties, led by the main opposition Democratic Party, also claim the government needs to renegotiate the deal as the pact is unbalanced in favor of the U.S.

   "Their claims are groundless, and their calls to renegotiate the deal are unrealistic," Kim said.

Source: Yonhap News (July 21, 2011)

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