News / Asia

Fight Threat Delays US-S. Korea Trade Agreement Approval

Conservative protesters shout slogans during a rally supporting the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) talks near the National Assembly in Seoul November 1, 2011.
Conservative protesters shout slogans during a rally supporting the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) talks near the National Assembly in Seoul November 1, 2011.

The threat of physical fighting erupting among South Korean lawmakers is delaying approval of a crucial trade agreement with the United States.

For a second straight day, opposition politicians are blocking their colleagues in the governing party from entering a parliament conference room. That has prevented a committee from sending to the full National Assembly the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

If it makes it to the floor of the parliament it is guaranteed passage because the Grand National Party composes the majority and it favors the measure.  But many lawmakers of the Democratic Party, who initially supported the pact four years ago, now oppose it.   Among them: former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young.

Chung says he is not fighting for the party, but rather the fate of Korean citizens.

The only thing the two sides appear to agree on is that physical violence will erupt among lawmakers if the ruling party attempts to proceed with the ratification.   Monday, the Democrats rejected a compromise with the GNP and began a physical blockade of the committee room. They want to remove a clause that would allow American investors to file lawsuits against Korean companies with an arbitration group.

A similar clause exists in current South Korean trade deals with the European Union, Chile and Singapore.

The U.S. Congress ratified the agreement on October 12. It was first negotiated in 2007 when previous administrations were in power in both Washington and Seoul.

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan says it is essential to approve the agreement because it will give a boost to South Korea's slowing economy.

Bahk says the government has already declared that it will readily provide a full package to support those in South Korea who will be damaged by the agreement.  He says it is time for swift action and moving ahead with ratification.

After endorsement by legislatures in both Washington and Seoul the agreement is to take effect in 60 days. South Korea's failure to approve it by Monday means it will not be implemented on January first, as had been anticipated.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid