On Thursday, the European Parliament approved a free trade agreement with Korea. Now the Korean legislature is urged to speed up the process of ratifying the deal, which EU Ambassador to Korea Tomasz Kozlowski says will “more than double EU-Korea trade in the next 20 years as compared with a scenario without the FTA.”
The FTA is a win-win deal to both sides, not a zero-sum game. As such, there is no need for the National Assembly to drag its feet any further in approving the bilateral accord, the motion for whose ratification the administration submitted in October last year.
Yet the opposition Democratic Party vows to prevent the trade pact from being ratified during the current extraordinary session of the National Assembly. It says the administration will have to take remedial measures prior to ratification.
Now the party says it needs more time to study the deal’s content. If so, what has it done during the past four months? By putting stumbling blocks in the way, is it attempting to curry favor with labor groups? If so, it should be reminded that Korea launched negotiations with the EU on the proposed trade pact when it was in power, in May 2007 to be more precise.
It is necessary to ensure the pact will go into effect on July 1, as scheduled, to facilitate trade with the European Union with 27 member states, Korea’s second largest trading partner after China. According to one study, it will increase bilateral trade by an annual average of $2.5 billion during the next 15 years and raise Korea’s real gross domestic product up to 5.6 percent during the next 10 years.
Korea has another reason to speed up the ratification process. It will pressure the U.S. Senate to approve the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. After all, there is nothing like free trade for Korea’s growth.