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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid