The press conference in Seoul
Leaders of five religions including Catholicism said today they do not want the government to ratify a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US “in haste”.
They held a press conference in front of the National Assembly building, denouncing the “dangerous attempt” of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) to enforce the ratification of the FTA.
South Korea and the US launched free trade talks in 2006.
Both chambers of the US Congress passed the bill just before Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s summit with US President Barack Obama in Washington on October 12.
Since then, the ruling GNP has insisted the agreement should be ratified as soon as possible, following the government’s request for it to take effect on January 1 next year.
But opposition parties have refused to ratify it, saying the Investor-State Dispute (ISD) settlement clause could cause huge damage to sovereignty because US investors could ask the Korean government to scrap policies that hamper business.
They are asking the government to re-negotiate with the US to drop the ISD clause.
During the press conference, Father Stephen Yang Ki-suk, secretary of the Korean bishops’ Committee for Environment, said “the FTA with the US means another way for one percent of the population to dominate 99 percent of the wealth and power.”
The government acknowledges that large business like car industry will benefit most while farmers and small business people face harder environment, but it insists that overall it is needed for the "national interest".
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